Health Minister Carvin Malone said a staffing shortage within the BVI Health Services is affecting the government’s ability to return test results to travellers in a timelier manner.
In an address to the territory on Monday, December 7, Minister Malone said health authorities are feverishly training and deploying current workers within the health sector to assist with the COVID-19 testing process as more visitors trickle into the territory.
While noting that the testing laboratory has responded well overall: “We have some challenges in terms of gathering all the data because the automation part of it will come. But we are growing and we are adding the facilities necessary to be able to get the automatic responses, number one, from the entry protocol, the automatic advisory as to whether or not you have tested negative/positive so that would know exactly what to do. So we would lessen that time that people are now experiencing.”
“It is an open secret that we must go to where you take the test at 11 o’clock on the fourth day and get it by 11 the next day. But we have some areas that we are sorting out as we speak. Premier spoke of being able to increase the staff. We trained about six persons today (December 7) to assist with different areas. We were able to transition a number of people from different departments who were enthusiastic about this and making sure that for the love of country, they would be able to lend their support where it is needed,” Malone explained.
He added that having more staff members will help to reduce the time travellers have to wait when they take the first COVID-19 test after landing in the BVI.
Lab expert needed
Minister Malone also said health authorities are trying to source a laboratory specialist to work at the state-of-the-art laboratory at the Dr D Orlando Smith Hospital where samples are tested for COVID-19.
“That’s a specialised area and folks at the Health Services guard that sacredly because we want to make sure that the lab gives out the accurate response in line with the accreditation we have obtained. We need trained personnel to do that so if we have persons with such specialised laboratory skills in the territory, they can identify themselves so they can be interviewed,” Malone explained.
Persons who travel to the BVI must return two COVID-19 test results before they are allowed to mingle with others within the community.
Hundreds of residents and non-residents have already travelled to the BVI since the territory reopened its borders to international travel on December 1.
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