Cayman has enough supplies of PCR tests on island to meet the recent increase in demand for COVID-19 tests, even as residents flock to local testing stations for screening, local hospitals have assured.
That’s the word from Medical Director at the Health Services Authority Dr. Delroy Jefferson and Doctors Hospital Chairman Dr Yaron Rado, as well as Health City Cayman Islands Chief Business Officer Shomari Scott.
Last week, long lines were seen at various testing stations on both Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.
“Although the demands have increased, the HSA maintains 3-6 months of stock levels with multiple arrangements in place with international suppliers to continuously replenish stocks. Therefore we do not anticipate depleting our supplies even with demand increasing,” Jefferson said in his emailed response to the Compass.
Rado, speaking with the Compass Friday evening, said the increase in individuals seeking testing was a good thing as “people are doing their duty, the right thing and getting tested”.
He said this should not been seen as “panicking” since most individuals could have had contact, whether secondary or tertiary, with someone testing positive. He stressed it was the right move for the community to have themselves checked out.
Over at Doctors Hospital, he said the demand has pushed their resources to capacity, as they have been running between 800 and 900 tests daily.
However, he emphasised that is a good thing, in terms of testing their capabilities, as the jurisdiction moves towards the 20 Nov. reopening date.
He shared that the lab did suffer a short setback on Wednesday when they received the wrong testing solution, which cost them a half day of work, but he said they were able to keep working through the challenge.
Scott said, when it comes to PCR tests, “we have enough supplies on hand and ordered for this to not be an issue”.
Jefferson, on Monday in response to queries from the Cayman Compass on the issue, said with the introduction of the Lateral Flow Rapid Testing Policy “we expect the demands for PCR testing to be reduced”.
The policy, which was made public Friday evening, encourages the use of lateral flow tests. It also outlines how and when they are to be used.
Jefferson said, due to the increase in COVID-19 cases across the island “we are experiencing a greater demand for PCR testing” but he said steps are being taken to address the situation.
“We have hired additional staffing to perform COVID-19 testing and man the Flu Hotline. We have extended the Flu Clinic hours to 11pm so that persons experiencing flu-like symptoms could receive care and if suspected of having COVID-19, be tested. Walk-ins are still available 7:30am – 12pm Monday – Friday at the COVID testing clinic and all persons present at the closing time will be seen,” he said.
Similarly, Scott noted an influx of people submitting for testing at HCCI facilities.
“Due to the increase in positives, we did see a substantial increase in PCR testing last week which caused slight delays in test reporting. The good news is that we are significantly increasing our capacity as of Wednesday of this week and the majority of results will be received back same day,” he said.
Government’s lateral flow test policy, Jefferson added, “will allow more persons to self-test and get their results within minutes”.
Scott said Health City is looking to help play a role as a partner healthcare provider, as it did when there was a supply chain issue for PPE at the start of the pandemic.
“We are now trying to help as best as possible with the supply of lateral flow tests, which are key to keep first contacts out of isolation by daily testing to ensure we don’t have significant disruption to employment, staff and students etc. We will need to keep track of quantities on island to see if any limits will be needed as we receive our second shipment,” he added as he spoke to the difficulties getting hold of lateral flow tests at the institutions, local pharmacies and supermarketsRado also added that, at Doctors Hospital, tests are being procured to meet the demand.
Similarly, in response to the long lines, the HSA Medical Director said the HSA had taken steps to improve the experience, such as providing beverages, tenting for shelter and additional seating.
“The continued rise in cases has led to increasing testing which has led to more results being processed. The PCR testing is a multi-staged process that takes time to ensure accurate results. The issue is not with the speed of testing but with the sheer volume of the results to be processed and reported,” Jefferson said as he addressed concerns about the release of results.
He said the Public Health and HSA continue to work at addressing these issues through additional staffing, increased operating hours and a change in the result-reporting process.
“As previously reported by Dr. John Lee, a new process is going to be instituted whereby people who are positive will be sent an email just like those who are negative and, along with that email, will be instructions that anybody who is a new positive needs to isolate and continue to isolate: those who are vaccinated for 10 days and those who are unvaccinated for 14 days,” Jefferson added.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez added, “We understand the public’s heightened anxiety given the increasing number of cases in our community. However, we all have shared responsibility and should each play our part to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission”.
He reiterated the precautionary measures that can be taken to protect oneself and loved ones, including: “Wearing of masks in public spaces, frequent hand cleansing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, covering nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, practice social distancing of minimum of 6 feet, and avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections”.
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