Ministry seeks assistance of private doctors to facilitate expanded testing

THE Ministry of Health and Wellness will be seeking the assistance of general practitioners (GPs) in facilitating expanded testing for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This was announced by Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, who said this is being done to capture people who are self-isolating by staying home and not visiting public health facilities.

“I have had discussions with the medical officers of health, and many of them have started to reach out to the GPs, because we recognise that there is a decrease in the persons [presenting at public health facilities], as they are rightly following the instructions to stay at home; so for the stay-at-home persons, some of them are visiting their GPs or are calling their GPs,” she said.

Dr Bisasor McKenzie was addressing a virtual parliamentary special select committee meeting to review developments relating to COVID-19, on Thursday.

She noted that medical officers have been contacting GPs through the WhatsApp and e-mail groups that were created as communication channels during the dengue outbreak in the country. Through these channels, the private doctors would indicate whenever they have individuals who require testing, so that arrangements can be made to have this done.

“Based on the reports that we had [on April 15], the western region has actively started that process, and also, the north-east region reported that [they] have actively started that process. The other regions we have encouraged [to follow suit]… and I know some of them have started, and by this way, we expect that we will also increase our sampling,” she said.

The chief medical officer said this move is part of the ministry’s work to further broaden surveillance testing, which has now been expanded beyond the hospitals and the health centres that were in the initial influenza protocol, to include all hospitals and all health centres.

“We have sent out the message to all our health care providers to say… we want everybody who comes in that has anything that looks like influenza to be tested – in your Accident and Emergency Departments, in your health centres – and all your severe acute respiratory infections are to be tested,” she said.


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