The Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) has confirmed testing for COVID-19 will be available locally this week at their internationally accredited forensic laboratory, in partnership with the HSA clinical laboratory. The introduction of local testing will significantly reduce the waiting period, from 5-10 days to 24-48 hours, for confirmation of COVID-19.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr Samuel Williams said, “The reagent required to test samples with our PCR machine has now been validated in the laboratory. The ability for local testing is significant as it further enhances the capabilities of the HSA to not only detect COVID-19 in real time but also provides timely intervention in the management of patients and enhances our public health surveillance and will expedite response capabilities. Being able to test on-island will allow those persons who test negative to come out of home isolation as soon as they get results.”
Public Health will only be testing persons with a suspected case of COVID-19 who fit the following criteria of symptoms:
- Flu symptoms and have a travel history to a country that has reported local transmission of COVID-19 disease during the 14 days prior to symptom onset; OR
- Any acute respiratory illness and who has been a contact of a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 disease during the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms; OR
- Severe acute respiratory infection and requires hospitalization and no other etiology that fully explains the clinical presentation
PCR testing is the recommended standard for COVID-19 by the WHO, PAHO and Public Health England. Test results from “rapid test kits” will not be accepted or considered by the Public Health Department. Facilities with patients meeting the criteria to be tested for COVID-19 should collect the sample (nasopharyngeal swab for viral studies) and contact the HSA lab prior to sending the sample for testing.
The Health Services Authority is encouraging members of the public who are experiencing flu like symptoms to contact the flu hotline on 1-800-534-8600, 947-3077 or email email@example.com.