20-min Antigen tests will be used on persons with COVID-19 symptoms
The Ministry of Health has more than 50,000 COVID-19 Antigen tests, which it will be using in all the regions to ensure persons can get their results within a much shorter time, especially in remote areas.
In addition to the 50,000, the government will be sourcing 20,000 more antigen tests as a result of a $32M donation from ExxonMobil on Monday.
The test takes 20 minutes to produce results and are cheaper, however, Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony clarified that since antigen tests are effective after a few days of a person becoming infected, it will only be administered to persons with COVID-19 symptoms.
“They’re a little bit less sensitive so at the beginning of someone getting infected, they are not as effective to detect the infection but if you wait a few days, then they become more effective at detecting the infection.
“So protocol suggest that you use them when somebody displays signs or symptoms of COVID-19,” the Minister explained during his daily COVID-19 update on Monday.
The known symptoms of COVID-19 include fatigue, headaches, fever, lack of smell, lack of taste and others. The ministry has trained doctors at the Georgetown Public Hospital and regional officials on how to administer the tests.
The minister said the majority of the professionals have completed the theoretical aspect of the training and are almost finished with the practical course.
Dr Anthony explained that the antigen tests are done similar to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests with a swab. The swab is then placed into a tube with reagents and twirled three-four times.
“…then you take droplets from that tube and you put it onto a testing board and once you put the droplets there, you wait for 15-20 minutes and then you’ll see some lines will appear which will indicate whether the person is positive,” the ,inister noted.
If the individual gets a negative result but their symptoms continue, a PCR test will be done.
“The PCR test is still the gold standard for testing,” Dr Anthony said.
He disclosed that the government imported two additional PCR testing machines at the weekend and can now do up to 1,500 tests per day.
“We would now be able, once we install the machine and put everything together, we will be able to more than 1,000 PCR tests per day. I would say we can comfortably do 1,500 in a day.”
Guyana on Monday recorded 32 new cases of COVID-19 taking the overall total to 5,665.