British Virgin Islands

Friday, Sep 18, 2020

Increased community screening delaying COVID results for persons intending to travel

Increased community screening delaying COVID results for persons intending to travel

The recent delay in returning COVID-19 test results for persons intending to travel from the BVI is because of the heightened community screening that is being conducted across the territory.

This is according to the Chief Executive Officer of the BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA), Dr Ronald Georges.

He was responding to reports that a number of persons who had booked flights out of the territory and requested the $135 testing service had not received their results in the expected turnover period.

“It (the turnover period) is usually 24 hours but when we have community testing to do in a week, it takes a little longer than that. Remember what’s going on with us now. We are dealing with our regular testing requests, plus we have hundreds to do in terms of contact tracing and people who may have been exposed,” Dr Georges told BVI News.

“You have to understand that our capacity is stretched right now so we may not be able to respond as quickly as we have in the past,” he added.

Backlog in reporting negative results


Dr Georges alluded to recent tests conducted on Anegada where more than 300 residents were tested in only a matter of days.

He said while the total number of negative cases can be quantified and announced almost immediately, to individually identify each negative result with the specific person who was tested is where the delay will occur.

“The positive reports — those ones are prioritised and they are contacted. The negative ones we have to get through the backlog. In some countries, they wait five to seven days. In some countries it’s weeks and in some countries it is not possible at all to get things turned around as quickly as we have,” he stated.

Increased staffing


Dr Georges further said with the increased testing, the BVIHSA has taken on additional staff to assist with heightened demands.

“The staff are doing as much as they can do … They’re trying their best to get the results out. We have extra staff on, we have extra staff swabbing, we have extra staff in the lab, we have extra staff doing contact tracing.”

COVID-19 tests are critical for travellers since it allows for them, once receiving a negative result, to be exempted from the mandatory 14-day quarantine period that is part of the COVID-19 safety protocols for most Caribbean countries.

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