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The regional body tasked with scrutinising suspected Covid cases has carried out almost 14,000 tests since the outbreak of the pandemic – and delivered results for each one within the target 48-hour period.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has been conducting tests for 18 countries across the region. In June, the quantity its laboratory was turning over peaked, topping more than 150 per business day.

When testing began in February, CARPHA pledged to deliver results to nations’ chief medical officers within 24 to 48 hours of receipt of specimens.

“As of Tuesday, 11th August 2020 the number of samples tested totalled 13,815. None of the results of these samples have been delivered past 48 hours after receipt of the samples,” a press release issued yesterday stated.

Speedy delivery of test results is vital to help curtail the coronavirus’ spread. Delays can mean setbacks in contact tracing and administering care and guidance.

“CARPHA continues to adhere to good laboratory practices that produce accurate results,” said Dr Gabriel Gonzalez-Escobar, CARPHA’s head of laboratory services.

“Our testing strategies and cadre of well-trained staff work to ensure that there is no backlog for tests or pending results. We know that timely reporting of laboratory results is important as it can make a difference to member states.”

Dr Escobar said the lab remained committed to delivering prompt Covid-19 results.

 In June 2020, the body received a total of 3,250 samples, representing the largest number of samples processed during the pandemic and a “notable achievement in the history of the organisation”.

CARPHA is being supported by various international partners including the European Union, World Bank, the USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).

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