Molecular lab open 24/7 chief lab tech reassures
CHIEF LABORATORY Technologist, Elliot Samuel, in acknowledging that persons awaiting exit screening results are sometimes getting antsy when it reaches the end of the normal work day, reiterated last week that the labs are open 24/7.
The amount of samples that the lab is receiving for testing for COVID-19 has tripled since the end of August, the Technologist informed.
“Up until this recent spike we were not getting so many public health samples for contact tracing, the majority of samples we were getting were really persons who were doing what we would call an exit screen and entry screen,” Samuel clarified.
“We have been building capacity for a surge for a while now so we are in various stages of procurement. We do have a lot of items on order, our greatest challenge to date being the movement of items across border. So lots of logistics involved.”
However, the Technologist also asked persons to be pragmatic, reiterating that “it is suggested that where the Delta is concerned, a single infected individual can infect up to two thousand persons in five to seven days.”
“There is going to come a time when the Ministry of Health and the Public Health team is going to have to develop what is called a sampling and a testing strategy, so we may not be able to practically test everybody if we hit very high numbers, but at the same time we are doing all we can to ensure that we have supplies on island to sustain diagnostic capacity.”
As it stands now, he said that one of the challenges “we see now is persons who are doing the exit screens, they get a little antsy at times.”
Samuel said he believes this is because the message hasn’t really gone out to the public that the laboratory services program, which are the molecular laboratory and the lab at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) are open 24 hours, “So persons will get a little antsy when it’s getting close to four o’clock and five o’clock and they have not received their PCR test results.”
Right now the Labs are “inundated” by a great number of samples, of which “we have to give precedence to the public health samples,” he commented.
Therefore, with respect to those doing entry screens Samuel said, “I want to reach out to you to do that online application process, stick to the five days protocol that we have in place, and try to get your samples into the lab within that 72 hour window, inclusive of your travel day.”
“…If you’re travelling on Wednesday you have to do the application so that you will be scheduled for a test on Monday. Now the reason for that is that we very often don’t want to leave anybody out…” He added: “ know sometimes even when we say that, we don’t guarantee a test to travel, it has to take a lower priority ranking than our public health contact tracing tests,” but he said that the staff at the Laboratory “will go above and beyond to ensue that you get your test results.”
Swabbing for tests is done at the district clinics and sent to the lab in batches for processing.