As it seeks to expand testing, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has revised its criteria for COVID-19 testing referral. It is anticipated that “scaled up” testing will improve case detection for earlier diagnosis and containment of the viral illness.
Medical practitioners on the island have been advised to refer all clients displaying the following symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 to be considered for testing:
- Respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath)
- Anosmia (loss of smell)
- Ageusia (loss of taste)
- and gastrointestinal complaints (anorexia, nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain).
Physicians are asked to contact 536-4510 to make the referral any day between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., inclusive of weekends and public holidays. The following information must be provided on referral:
- 1. Name
- 2. Address
- 3. Date of Birth/ Age
- 4. Contact numbers
- 5. Symptoms
- 6. Travel history/Contact with travelers/ Occupation/ Other risk factors
- 7. License plate number
Medical practitioners are also asked to note that testing may not be conducted on the same day as referral. In addition, the laboratory test results should be available within 24 hours of the sample being tested, and the referring doctor and patient will be given the results by phone.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George recently explained the reason for expanded testing.
“We have been given a mandate by the Prime Minister to scale up our testing, because we went six days without any new cases. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has always had the approach to be extremely transparent and we would like to make sure that when we tell you there is no in country transmission it is so and the only way we would be able to do that is with scaled up testing.
So what we have told general practitioners is that persons, even without a travel history, presenting with respiratory illness, we are willing to test. We will also pay special emphasis to frontline workers and the elderly.”