Update on COVID-19 Testing
On March 11, 2020, COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the WHO (World Health Organization) Director General. COVID-19 is a viral illness which spreads from person to person in droplet form.
The Turks and Caicos Islands Ministry of Health over the last few months has taken a series of steps with great effort to enhance the country’s capacity to address the threat of COVID-19, including developing in-country diagnostic capacity. On 26th May, 2020 the National Public Health Laboratory officially commenced testing samples for COVID-19 using PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) technology, the approved and gold standard method for the identification of COVID-19. In addition to this achievement, the Ministry saw the coming into effect enabling legislation, namely the Public and Environmental Health (Testing Of Covid-19) Regulations 2020 on 30th April 2020. The regulations make provision whereby persons being tested for this disease shall receive tests from scientifically proven and approved methods. The legislation has made it an offence for agents to perform or offer testing without proper scrutiny and subsequent approval of the methods being used by the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry so far has received one application for testing from the Private Sector which is currently under review. As with many new and emerging diseases, manufacturers have scrambled to create and produce recognized testing devices to be used to identify the causative agent of COVID-19. Unfortunately, not all of the testing methodologies and devices being offered are on par with the recommended gold standard and this has resulted in a significant amount of false diagnoses across the world. The Ministry of Health advises that persons who subject themselves to testing by agents who have not received proper approval are doing so at their own risk and may receive a result which is incorrect and cannot be relied upon.
The Regulations require all persons who carry out testing for COVID-19 to have written approval from the Ministry of Health and to report the results of all testing to the Ministry in a timely manner.
Further, as COVID-19 is a notifiable disease as specified in Turks And Caicos Islands
Public and Environmental Health (Infectious And Notifiable Diseases) Notice
2020, the Ministry of Health must be duly notified of results from all Covid-19 testing.
All facilities wishing to engage in testing for Covid-19, whether locally or through overseas laboratories, should contact the Ministry of Health on 649-338-5161. The Ministry remains committed to safeguarding the health of the nation.
For up to date information on Covid-19, please visit the Ministry of Health’s website on https://www.gov.tc/moh/coronavirus/.