The clearing of the weeks-old backlog of test samples to be analysed have presented a clearer picture of the COVID-19 situation St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
On Friday, Minister of Health St. Clair “Jimmy” Prince announced that there is community spread of the viral illness in SVG.
Speaking during the same press announcement, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache noted that on Thursday SVG recorded 103 new cases, from samples collected between Jan. 21 and Feb 3.
She said that health officials noted that the majority of cases were from contacts of positive cases, routine screening, and testing of persons with flu symptoms.
The figures show that the country has 1,021 local cases, 494 of which are from contacts of known positive cases and 177 from persons who presented with flu-like symptoms and tested positive.
Of these 1,021 persons, 47 were found positive on exit screening – COVID-19 testing of persons wanting to leave the country.
There were also 303 persons who tested positive but their forms did not indicate their reason for screening, meaning that they might have been part of random screening done earlier.
“So while we have many new clusters, in terms of families, and meeting places, this pattern of transmission is consistent with community spread,” Keizer-Beache said.
She said that because of a clearing of the backlog in samples to be tested, health officials are now better able to understand what was happening on each day.
In explaining the data between Dec. 16 and Feb.4, she said that the country went from an incidence of 6.6% on Jan. 11, to 15.7% on Jan. 21.
On Jan. 28, it was 16% and 15.3% on Jan. 30.
The CMO said that testing of samples on Feb. 1 and 2, thus far, has given rates of 2.7% and 3.2%
On Feb. 3, there were two positive cases and one case on Feb. 4.
“Given the incubation period of 14 days, we are expecting, we anticipate, that we might see increased rates of COVID-19 from Jan. 28 coming back down, so we anticipate that we will be seeing some new cases in a few days.”
Keizer-Beache said that if the dates Jan. 24-25 — a weekend and decreased testing — are omitted, “we can see that we have reached a new plateau of testing where we are coming up with cases between 50 and so per day but then we came down after Jan. 30 and we are observing these rates to see if these will continue.
“Our aim is to maintain that decreased rate of transmission,” she said.
The CMO said persons with symptoms of COVID-19 who attend a health facility are administered an antigen test, where a swab is placed in the nostrils and the sample analysed and the results obtained at the test site, after about 20 minutes.
Over the last few weeks, quite a number of tests have been done and the data suggest a decrease in the levels of positive cases over time.
She said that the PRC tests conducted since March 2020 show a massive spike beginning Dec. 28, with another spike around Jan. 28, and the numbers are now falling.
Keizer-Beache noted that health officials had been talking for weeks of a backlog, where “massive numbers of samples” had been waiting for testing.
“And thankfully, we have come down now where we have successfully managed to come up to date where we should only have back to a 24 to 48 hours change in turnaround time,” she said.