11:31 pm, Fri September 11, 2020
Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton – (Photo by JIS/Rudranath Fraser)
Dr. Christopher Tufton
Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton has said a decision will be made on the use of rapid COVID-19 tests, following a meeting with health experts next week.
He said the meeting will include representatives from the University Hospital of the West Indies, the National Public Health Laboratory along with other external personnel.
“It is a conversation that is being had. There are some informal arrangements currently we know in the country where some persons are administering it. There are different varieties or manufacturers, if you will. But there is some value in the use of both the antigen and antibody testing as well as of course the PCR, which we’re using now. There’s gonna be a meeting early in the new week where I’ve asked for all the respective experts if you will… to come together, where we are going to be having a serious dialogue and a decision will be taken on where we go as it relates to testing,” he revealed.
Method of diagnosis
In the meantime, Dr. Tufton said the ministry is also looking at changing its method of diagnosis, so that testing will not be the only way of determining whether a person has COVID-19.
“I know it’s a difficult concept to understand given all that was said in the past about the importance of testing and I know that we’re going to have to try harder to explain the different between a laboratory diagnosis, which is a function of testing, versus a clinical diagnosis, which is function of a doctor’s examination and assessment,” he asserted.
He compared it to what currently pertains in relation to the diagnosis of dengue fever in Jamaica, where they “only test a particular percentage of the population and for the majority of the rest, a determination is made (by a doctor) based on the symptoms.”
The Health Minister said ongoing consultations with stakeholders on the new protocols governing the community transmission phase will continue into next week as the ministry finalises a comprehensive plan.