COVID-19 antigen tests set to roll out this week

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The Ministry of Health has procured 20,000 COVID-19 antigen tests, which will reduce testing time and also produce faster results.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony in Tuesday’s COVID-19 update, said with this new testing method, hospitals will also return to some semblance of normalcy.

“We have so far procured enough kits that can last us for a three to four-month period.

“We think this is going to help us to open up a lot of avenues; one it is going to reduce testing time and secondly it will allow us to help the hospitals to return to some sense of normalcy,” the Health Minister said.

Health workers at the Georgetown Public Hospital began training on Tuesday on how to administer to test, while training will commence on Wednesday for health workers at the regional hospitals across the country.

Before patients are admitted or treated, doctors have to wait 24 hours for results from a COVID-19 PCR test, but with the new antigen tests, the results will be available within 20 to 30 minutes.

“We are adding these tests because it would allow the doctors and other health care personnel that is offering care at various facilities to have something where they can check people immediately,” the Minister said.

Dr Anthony explained that in some cases, hospitals were even sceptical about admitting patients.  The antigen test is also much cheaper than a PCR test, according to the Minister; the PCR test cost US$100 per test while the antigen test cost US$12.

Initially, the antigen tests were ordered for selective hinterland communities but will now be administered across the country.

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