HSA still only facility able to test for COVID-19

| 07/04/2020 | 14 Comments
Cayman News Service
CMO Dr John Lee at Tuesday’s press briefing

(CNS): Questions over quality control at local medical facilities along with the lack of necessary equipment will curb the Cayman Islands’ ability to test for COVID-19 in significant numbers, even when the 200,000 kits arrive, unless other facilities can get PCR machines, the relevant equipment and put protocols in place. During Tuesday’s press briefing on the health crisis, Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee said the HSA remains the only approved facility.

Dr Lee revealed that out of 114 test results over the last day or so, just six were positive, bringing the local total to 45 positive from 479 samples.

Four of these new results were from students at the isolation facility, and those students will continue to stay there. Another two people who tested positive were both directly connected to others who had tested positive. Dr Lee said the students may have contracted the virus on the plane, or could be simply shedding the virus as they approach the end of their time carrying it, but they will not be released until they have two clear negatives.

He said most people who have tested positive and are still in the isolation period are doing well but there are still two patients in hospital in the Cayman Islands. Twenty-one patients with mild symptoms are recovering at home while another seven have recovered.

But the pressing need to ramp up testing to help Cayman emerge from the lockdown is still presenting problems.

Although 1,700 tests arrived on the British Airways flight yesterday, Dr Lee said there were still elements of the chain that needed to be addressed before front-line staff can start to get tested. He pointed to problems in the capacity of the HSA laboratories to process tests, which is an area where other hospitals would hopefully be able to help. Nevertheless, Dr Lee said he expects that testing of healthcare and other front-line workers would begin by the end of this week.

But when it comes to preparations for the 200,000 test kits expected from South Korea, he said more work would be required before other facilities would be able to test and help roll out a mass testing programme.

He explained that Heath City Cayman Islands does not have the requisite machine but the HSA is hoping that they will be able to help with the laboratory work in a production line fashion as they have both the skills and capacity to assist with that.

Meanwhile, the CTMH Doctors Hospital has its own machine and is working towards getting that up and running to meet the requisite quality control standards. Dr Lee said it was important that checks are carried out in order that “we can trust the results that come out the other end”.

He said the HSA remains the only facility that is approved for PCR testing as officials need to be sure that all test sample run through a testing machine are accurate.

See Dr Lee’s update on CIGTV below, set to start at the CNS question for him about testing:

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Category: Health, Medical

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    so how many tests can be done in a day? we will have the kits to test all 65000 people but not if they con only run 100 a day?

  2. nauticalone says:

    That more persons may understand – can Dr. Lee please explain (more often) in plain English, what he means by “people should practice respiratory etiquette”? or phrases / words to that effect.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Last night I was listening to Marilynne Robinson (2004) Gilead audiobook and here is this remarkable excerpt (coincidentally or not?)

    ‘People don’t talk much about Spanish influenza, but that was a terrible thing, and it struck just at the time of the Great War, just when they were getting involved in it. It killed the soldiers by the thousands, healthy men in the prime of life, and then it spread to the rest of the population. It was like a war, it really was. One funeral after another, right here in Iowa. We lost so many of the people and we got off lightly. People came to the church wearing masks, if they came at all. They’d sit far from each other as they could. There was talk of the Germans had caused it with some sort of secret weapon, and I think people wanted to believe that…because it saved them from reflecting on what other meaning it might have…they were speared the act of killing, it was just like biblical plague, just exactly…………..that desire of war would bring the consequences of war because there is no ocean big enough to protect us…….. so many died so fast there was no place to put them, they just stack the bodies in the yard …they drafted all the boys at the college and influenza swept through……. “

    • Anonymous says:

      You will find many plagues in history. You might also like to read about the antonine plague. This covid-19 is bad, but many lives will be saved because of modern technology and medicine.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This virus has taught us a lot. We should stay home as long as possible, with only the people that cannot work from home gradually allowed back to work after testing. Working at home also helps our traffic problem. People have been forced to be more organized with shopping. The USA will be messed up for months, we are in better shape than a lot of countries. Keep the curfews going and stay home. Only when everyone has been tested can we say we got it licked.

  5. Anonymous says:

    45. Shoot!

    That’s a lot for a population of 65,000.

    • Anonymous says:

      Stay at home then so the number won’t go up.

      • nauticalone says:

        That will help a lot. But it still won’t account for the true number of cases that we may have, given the number tested is a very low fraction of the population.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s my very point Bart….


    • Anonymous says:

      As it stands, the percentage is much lower than the USA.

      • nauticalone says:

        Please, let’s not set the bar so low, for this, as to use the USA for comparison. Let’s try to emulate South Korea or New Zealand instead.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not really, if you recall Dr. Lee has said persons who test positive would usually need to be tested twice, i.e. they must have two negative test results before they are considered to be free of the virus. So on that basis, worst case scenario 200,000 would be enough with a bit left over to test entire population of 65,000

      • Anonymous says:

        You should have paid attention to your algebra classes.

      • Anonymous says:

        Actually 3 times. 1 out of 5, and some say 1/3 of all tested show false negative.

        CNS: Not all tests around the world are are equal. Dr Lee has explained that they are sending a number of the samples that are tested here to CARPHA to re-test to make sure that the HSA tests are accurate. And so far they have been, indicating that the people of the Cayman Islands can be assured that the local tests are good. The health officials here were very transparent about the one inconclusive result. The sample was sent to be retested to CARPHA, which ultimately backed the HSA result. And as this article shows, the HSA and the ministry are taking every single precaution to make sure the tests are accurate.

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