COVID-19 update and press conference – January 14, 2021. (PMO)

Government is aiming to clear the backlog of over 3,000 COVID-19 tests by the end of this weekend.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley stated this, during a COVID-19 update to the nation from Ilaro Court, when she shared the data regarding the number of tests being conducted at the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory.

“With respect to the backlog, we are in a position between January 7th and 11th where we still have just over about 3,000 tests to be completed with respect to the backlog. The best advice being given to us from the head of the lab, and I accept it, having seen and been working with them every day for the last few days, is that we should be able to clear the majority of the backlog, for which we have genuine information, between now and the end of the weekend,” she said.

Ms. Mottley gave a breakdown of the number of tests according to the dates, and those that were already completed.   

“On the seventh of January, we received 2,154 tests, and we have already completed 1,717 results for that day. For the eighth of January, we received 2, 786 tests and we have already completed 1,278, in that backlog. On the ninth of January, we received 1,384 tests, and we’ve completed only 414, and on the 10th of January, 1,165 tests were received and we’ve completed 230.”

Noting that there was a “veritable explosion” of swabbing and testing occurring between December 31, 2020, and January 10, 2021, the Prime Minister stated that a strain had been placed on the system, and as a result operational failure occurred. 

She pointed out that the failure was “not because we don’t have a number of machines, but because we did not have the capacity to deal with that large numbers of tests within the short period of time, especially over the holiday period”.

Ms. Mottley said that, from last Friday, certain measures had been implemented to assist in reducing the backlog, including increasing the number of staff working in the lab and those communicating the results, as well as other government departments assisting in identifying the categories which would guide testing for COVID-19 and the timelines for receiving results.

The Prime Minister stated that personnel at the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory had been working around the clock to do what was necessary to be able to report, and to give back persons the results that they need.   

“And I know it, because I’ve been visiting them [and] I’ve been making sure that the spirits of the team are up,” she added.

She also revealed that virologists from the Pan American Health Organization would be providing additional training to the lab technicians.

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