Government is working assiduously to address delays in returning COVID-19 test results.
Again, apologising for the delays on behalf of Government, Chairman of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on COVID-19, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, tonight outlined a number of initiatives implemented to address this issue.
These include categorising the results, with those in the protective and health services, the Barbados Fire Service, prison officers, personnel from the Customs and Immigration departments, those in elder care homes and in hospital, being classed as Category One and set to receive their results within 24 hours.
Meanwhile, persons listed in Category Two, will get their results within 36 to 48 hours, and Category Three would follow suit.
Senator Walcott noted that officers from the Hastings/Worthing Police Station had already received their second test results, while prison officers had received their second tests.
Other measures being taken include additional data entry personnel at the polyclinics, and the recruitment of more doctors to be based in the Best-Dos-Santos Public Health Laboratory and responsible for disseminating results to the various groups – the private sector, those who are in quarantine, and those who are in hotels.
Senator Walcott also noted that Government had enlisted the support of volunteers from the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners to work at the Ministry to assist with the dissemination of results to ensure they were as current as possible.
“In addition, doctors have also been recruited … in the polyclinics assisting the Medical Officers of Health, who are now burdened with the testing and other responsibilities to allow them to do this, and allow the functions of the polyclinics to continue,” he said.
He added that there would also be two teams within the Ministry of Health and Wellness who will be working in conjunction with the lab to ensure that results from January 7 and 8 would be ready by tomorrow.
There will also be another team working on processing results that were there before those dates. “So we’re working collectively in doing this,” he reiterated.
Referring to the present situation as “the perfect storm” Senator Walcott explained that the situation quickly evolved from one where Government was working on the SHAPE app to deliver results electronically from a manual system, to one where a sudden surge in cases placed a strain on the system.
“We apologise sincerely. We understand the difficulties; how it affects persons, as it relates to their holidays or being unable to see their relatives and incurring additional expenses. But I must caution that this issue is not unique to Barbados,” Senator Walcott stated.
He noted that developed countries, such as the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, were also experiencing delays in returning results to persons. “We accept that we are having difficulties in this area of dissemination of reports and results. We are addressing it, [and] we are addressing it assiduously. But some of the concerns are out of our hands,” he stated.