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TCI Ministry of Health announces COVID-19 Testing is Being Instituted in Country

#TurksandCaicosIslands – April 19, 2020 — The Ministry of Health is pleased to inform the general public that the Government is now in receipt of our first PCR analyzer; MIC qPCR Cycler- 4 Channel Unit. This machine was cleared out of customs on Friday afternoon, April 17, 2020. This analyzer is now in the Government’s Public Health Laboratory.

PCR Analyzer

Virtual training for the Medical Laboratory Technologists on operating, care, and maintenance of this particular PCR analyzer will immediately take place.

The PCR test is the gold standard throughout the world for testing and confirming the presence of the COVID-19 Coronavirus. It detects the genetic information of the virus, the RNA. That is only possible if the virus is present and someone is actively infected.”

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In contrast to antibody testing, PCR tests directly detect the presence of the virus, rather than the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies, towards the virus. By detecting viral genetic material, which will be present in the body before antibodies form or symptoms of the disease are present, the tests can tell whether or not someone has the virus very early on.

“PCR is the most accurate and conclusive test for early detection of the virus in persons who are infected.

PCR Analyzer

Testing with the COVID-19 PCR Analyzer is intended for use by trained clinical laboratory personnel specifically instructed and trained in the techniques of real-time PCR and in vitro diagnostic procedures.

Before the general use of this analyzer begins, the laboratory is mandated to perform all quality assurance measures; negative and positive controls must be run; validation of the accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of the testing system.

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The first batch of patient samples tested on the PCR analyzer would also be sent to the respective reference laboratories for comparing and contrasting results, which is also a part of our quality assurance.

The PCR analyzer can perform 48 test per batch, each batch can be analyzed in the fast time of 25 minutes. Additional time would be required for sample extraction and preparation.

The Ministry of Health, is jubilant that the Government now has the ability to immediately carry out additional testing on: persons currently in quarantine, contact persons of positive or suspected cases, persons in need of urgent medical care, and persons who may qualify to be placed in quarantine. In addition, the Ministry of Health is now in the position to roll out the strategy and protocols for wide spread community testing throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands, which will give Government and Health officials accurate information on the prevalence of this Coronavirus strain in our country.

It is my Government’s mandate to fully form, and coordinate, local and international multi-sector partnerships with all key stakeholders, in our local fight of this global COVID-19 Pandemic. This includes private healthcare providers and private laboratories.

Edwin Astwood, TCI Minister of Health Agriculture Sports & Human Services, file photo

To this end, my ministry is finalizing the regulations, protocols, and guidelines aimed at ensuring there are proper reporting and notifying, and that the necessary provisions are in place for ensuring the that all COVID-19 testing carried out for TCI residents are carried out in accordance with accepted international guidelines and quality standards, and that the relevant public health protocols are adhered to.”

As Minister of Health, I am committed to continued strengthening of the response to COVID-19. As such, the Ministry will be receiving more PCR analyzers, and is actively reviewing all COVID-19 Antibody Quick Test for procuring the most reliable testing system, for inclusion into our existing testing protocols.

The Ministry of Health will continue to update the general public on further developments in this area, and all other aspects of this COVID-19 Pandemic.

TCIG Press Release

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