Lab techs. aiming to test over 600 COVID-19 samples by Saturday

-backlog increases to 1,500


By Isanella Patoir

Medical technologists at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory are hoping to test approximately 600 COVID-19 samples by Saturday and the backlog in testing has now increased from 700 to 1,500.

In an effort to increase testing and reduce the backlog, the Ministry of Health has implemented two 12-hour shifts at the lab.

“I am hoping that we can clear and have some semblance of the backlog of about 600 by the end of Saturday,” said Dr Pheona Mohamed-Rambaran, Director of the Georgetown Public Hospital Laboratory.

Dr Mohamed-Rambaran explained that over the last week the number of samples have increased.

“It varies on some days…it can be between 250 and 300 but yesterday we had our highest number – it was 419 samples.”

On an average day, about 100-160 tests are done at the lab. Now with the second 12-hour shift, the lab was able to test an additional 250 samples on Thursday.

Dr Pheona Mohamed Rambarran at the GPHC laboratory (News Room/Bibi Khatoon photo)

“Our goal is to be able to process about 300 samples with people who are strong in doing the test and that may not be possible until next week I am hoping,” Dr Mohamed-Rambaran told the News Room Friday.

Currently, there are eight medical technologists who can perform the COVID-19 test, however, Dr Mohamed-Rambaran explained that not all of them are competent and this is what has resulted in the long wait for test results.

“I would say we have five competent persons and we have another three who have medium to intermediate competency and then we have at least five other persons who are being trained.”

As it relates to reports of tampering with the results and test, Dr Mohamed-Rambaran stated that a rigorous process is implemented which does not allow for tampering of any kind.

Additionally, a priority system will now be in place for persons who are hospitalised and were tested.

With nine COVID-19 related deaths in less a week, the majority died without receiving their results.

When a sample is sent to the lab, it goes with a form which states the location of the patient and if the form shows that a patient is admitted in the hospital and then swabbed, then the testing will be prioritized.

“At the Public Health Laboratory we have developed some systems to prioritize the patients who are in hospital, the critical patients so to speak so that those results can be provided faster to the clinicians.”

Guyana on August 20, 2020, recorded its 30th COVID-19 death; this patient died before receiving their result.

Guyana’s COVID-19 cases stand at 846 with 399 recoveries; there are 77 persons in institutional isolation including eight persons in the ICU and 333 persons in home isolation.

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