COVID-19 update with Head of the Health Communications Team, Ambassador Elizabeth Thompson. (PMO)

Barbadians and visitors should expect some relief soon from the delays in receiving their COVID-19 test results, says Senior Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Anton Best.

During the most recent update on COVID-19 last night, Dr. Best said the Ministry was addressing the “huge backlog” of samples at the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory.

While appealing for “cooperation and understanding” from visitors and Barbadians alike, Dr. Best disclosed that the Ministry’s four-tier categorisation system for prioritising testing and receiving results was fully rolled out today, and should help ease the build-up of samples at the laboratory.

Those who fall into Categories One and Two are to receive results in 24 hours; Category Three, in 36 to 48 hours; and Category Four, 48 to 72 hours.

Within the next few days, he said the Ministry should be able to utilise the SHAPE App, a database which starts documenting visitor information at the airport and ends with their test results being distributed electronically, in a timely manner, to healthcare providers.

While there had been some initial teething problems with the App, particularly with internet connectivity, Dr. Best explained that this was addressed by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology recently, and they were conducting the training needed to fully initiate the App.  

Furthermore, the Senior Medical Officer said the Ministry of Health and Wellness was adding additional human resource capacity to the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory to reduce the backlog.

“So, let me assure all persons in Barbados that we in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the wider government partners and volunteers are working to bring this outbreak under control. We need your understanding and cooperation and patience, and we must work together to bring this outbreak under control, more effectively. So, we’re going to get there,” he asserted.

Dr. Best pointed out that they were currently 172 persons at quarantine facilities around the island and approximately 400 tourists still awaiting results.

“And these are results to end quarantine. This is something that we’re working on diligently as well …. We expect to see improvement right away. As I said just now, we have started the categorisation process where we’ve identified [testing] sites for Category One.

“Category One [includes] the priority samples that we will be receiving and those samples will be prioritised and the results for those samples will be out within 24 hours of receipt in the lab. So, all of these things are coming together to improve this situation that we found ourselves in. And certainly by tomorrow, we will start to make headway. Will everything be resolved right away?  No, but we are getting there,” he stated.

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