Statement by Dr. Lisa Indar Assistant Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division, CARPHA at the Ministry of Health Press Briefing on 15th April 2020, Trinidad and Tobago
A pleasant good morning to all
I have been asked to address the issue of testing protocols at CARPHA. I am presently participating in the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting, so apologies in advance for leaving after this presentation.
CARPHA’s Medical Microbiology Laboratory (CMML), as the regional reference laboratory, currently conducts tests for suspected COVID-19 cases for Member States using the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended testing protocol.
The CMML currently tests ALL suspect cases of COVID-19 as recommended by the WHO case definition provided by the WHO Global surveillance for COVID-19 caused by human infection with COVID-19 virus
Currently, samples can only be sent to CARPHA from the designated national public health laboratory in a country. For Trinidad and Tobago, this means the Trinidad Public Health Laboratory (TPHL).
Once samples are received, CARPHA will produce the results within 24-48 hours. COVID-19 results are immediately sent to the Chief Medical Officers at the Ministries of Health, who are responsible for the dissemination.
CARPHA cannot and will not disseminate any country’s results directly to patients or individuals. It is an ethical breach and constitutes a violation of the Agency's ethical standards to share confidential patient information with unauthorized persons.
The CMML uses the WHO recommended Polymerase Chain Reaction method (PCR). PCR remains the gold standard for COVID-19 because the sensitivity and specificity are both 99.99%. The CMML has all the positive and negative controls to ensure ALL results are accurate.
Testing Protocols Regarding the Discharge of a Person Who Tested Positive for COVID-19
The universally accepted criteria for the discharge of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 is two consecutive negative results separated by 24-hour period. So, what does this mean exactly:
First: Once a person is tested positive for COVID -19, they would be required to be isolated in a government health facility for 14 days before repeat testing.
After 14 days, the COVID-19 test is repeated. If positive, then that test will be repeated after a 7-day interval. This will continue until the first negative result.
Once patient is tested negative, a next test will be done 24 hours after. Following two consecutive negative test results, the person would have met the universal criteria for discharge.