Govt’s COVID-19 tests should be for people exposed to virus, not as a workplace requirement – Health Minister

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The free PCR COVID-19 tests offered by the government should be used for those people exposed to the deadly virus or those at-risk and not for those who must test regularly because their workplace demands it, Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony said on Wednesday.

The Minister’s statements come following a decision by some businesses that that their employees should take the COVID-19 vaccine or present a negative PCR-COVID-19 test weekly.

On Wednesday morning, during his daily COVID-19 update, the Minister said that these instructions are one way of “encouraging a safe environment.”

When asked if the government intends to make vaccination mandatory, the Minister said the government is “looking at what is evolving from an epidemiological point of view and we would take all the necessary steps to ensure that people are protected.”

The News Room sought clarity on this statement, later on Wednesday. Specifically, the Minister was asked if the government would make its PCR tests available to those unvaccinated employees who would be required to produce negative results weekly.

Then, his answer was “I hope not.”

A few moments later, he said, “I don’t think we should be utilising the government’s resources in that way. We want to really check for persons who have been exposed and been at risk.”

Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony.

A  polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test is the gold-standard test used to detect the presence of SARS- CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease, COVID-19.

And, the Minister explained that the local health authorities do not have unlimited resources. Moreover, those resources- the tests- that the government does have, cost about US $100 (roughly GY $20,000) to administer to one person.

“… it is a very expensive process,” he explained.

Though he still signalled his support for the workplace requirements to ensure a safe working environment, he said that employers need to specify where employees would have to get those tests. He also said that at least four private facilities have been approved to offer these COVID-19 tests.

The Minister was, once again, asked about making vaccination mandatory. This time, his response was: “You will see some new orders when they come out at the end of the month… there will be some changes.”

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