M.O.H. clarifies virus test processing time

The Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) has confirmed that test results for suspected cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be ready within three to five days as opposed to more than two weeks.

Contrary to an announcement it made on Wednesday night of a 10-20 working days turnaround time for the test results, the Ministry clarified on Thursday afternoon that the process will last between three to five days.

"Due to the urgency of the request from the Ministry of Health, (MoH) we have been advised by laboratories in both Australia and New Zealand, that the turnaround time for testing samples from Samoa will be between 3 to 5 days."

The “testing clarification” from the Ministry follows another statement it issued on Wednesday night confirming that there is one suspected case of COVID-19 in Samoa.

The M.O.H. said the samples have been sent to Australia for testing.

The patient was admitted to the Moto’otua national hospital on Wednesday after experiencing flu-like symptoms for two days. 

The suspected case is a person who resides in Auckland and flew in from New Zealand for a family occasion. 

“This patient is currently receiving care at the T.T.M. (Tupua Tamasese Meaole) Hospital and is being cared for separately from other patients,” said M.O.H. in the statement. 

“The status is currently stable.” 

Meanwhile, other Pacific countries like Guam and American Samoa already have COVID-19 test kit to test samples of suspected cases. 

Questions have been sent to the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) office in Samoa, seeking comment from the W.H.O. Representative in Samoa, Dr. Rasul Baghirov. The questions are in relation to COVID-19 test kit  for Samoa.

In response, Josephine Epa said Dr. Baghirov was out of the office and the questions have been sent to him. 

Earlier this week, W.H.O. Director General in a media briefing announced that the organisation has shipped 1.5 million test kits to 120 countries. 

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the M.O.H. is encouraging all persons who have travelled or transited through countries affected by COVID-19 to monitor themselves for the development of fever, cough and shortness of breath. 

“If you have any of these symptoms please contact the Ministry of Health COVID-19 call centre for advice. 

“Additionally, please self-isolate at home. That is to stay in a separate room from family members and use separate eating and drinking utensils.” 

The M.O.H. is taking precaution and preventive measures to control the transmission of COVID-19, including preparing the health system to treat and care for patients when the first case is confirmed.

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