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Venezuela donates 3000 Covid-19 rapid test kits to SVG

Venezuela donates 3000 Covid-19 rapid test kits to SVG
From left: Minister of Health Luke Browne, head of mission at the Venezuelan Embassy in SVG Francisco M Perez Santana and Prime Minister of SVG Ralph Gonsalves

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St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has received 3000 rapid test kits so that the country can carry out in-country testing for Covid-19.

The kits, which arrived at the Argyle International Airport (AIA) today, April 10 are a gift from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, health minister Luke Browne and head of Mission at the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in SVG, Francisco M Perez Santana were all present to receive the items.

“These…kits for the rapid tests, 3000 of them, I’ve been advised by the medical authorities in this country, that these tests are particularly helpful and have a very high accuracy level towards the terminal stages of the 14-day quarantine period for a person either who has been tested positive or those who are asymptomatic,” the prime minister said, shortly after helping to take the kits off the plane and loading them onto a truck.

He added that while the kits may well be used at other periods, he has been told that the best time for testing is close to the end of the 14-day period.

In addition to the rapid test kits, SVG has also received a quantity of reagents for PCR testing.

Health officials previously said that an order had been placed for the PCR instrument which would allow for in-country testing of COVID samples.

But that instrument has not yet arrived in this country.

“We do not have the PCR equipment as yet. You know many pieces of equipment have been held up in the great United States of America for one reason or another, but I expect that we will get the PCR soonest,” Gonsalves said on Friday at the airport.

He however, expressed gratitude to President Maduro and Venezuela for the solidarity that they continue to show even when faced with difficult times.

Gonsalves said the Latin American country was in a very difficult economic and political situation with respect to its independence and sovereignty.

And this was because of “forces in our hemisphere threatening regime change and seeking to undermine lawful authority in Venezuela, creating the circumstances or facilitating a condition for social and political unrest”.

The Prime Minister noted that even though Venezuela has its own challenges with COVID-19, it has chosen to share the resources it has been able to acquire.

Francisco M Perez Santana, the head of Mission at the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in SVG congratulated the Government and people of this country for the work that they have been doing so far.

Santana explained that the 3000 rapid test kits received by SVG are part of 12,000 that are also being distributed among Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda and Grenada — members of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA).

“…We say we are spreading love and we are spreading solidarity…so receive this gift with the solidarity and love of President Maduro and the love of the people of Venezuela,” the head of mission said.

Although SVG has received these rapid test kits for COVID-19, some samples will still be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) laboratory in Trinidad and Tobago.

Luke Browne, the minister of health told SEARCHLIGHT that receiving the kits does not mean that the criteria for testing an individual will change.  He said the tests may be available for persons nearing the end of the quarantine period.

And like Gonsalves, he said it is for helping to detect the virus in its advanced stage, if in fact someone is infected.

While the short ceremony was taking place at the AIA, the Regional Security Service (RSS) plane arrived to transport samples from SVG to Trinidad for testing.

“So you see, there is ongoing work in respect of the way the government is going about dealing with the matter of the management and control of COVID-19 in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” the health minister said.

Browne disclosed that all supporting items required to establish PCR testing locally have been received.  He said that the instrument itself is the only outstanding piece of equipment, and the delay is due to challenges with shipping from the US.

“None the less, we are staying on top of the situation and hopefully it will be resolved soon,” Browne said.

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