A healthcare worker holds a positive Antigen test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in this Reuters file photo.
PHILIPSBURG–The Inspectorate of Public Health of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA warns against the illegal practices of commercial rapid antigen COVID test sites, and the sale of antigen COVID self-tests.
“Given the very steep increase in COVID-19 c
ases and the fact that the highly infectious Omicron variant is becoming the dominant strain on St. Maarten, people resort to rapid self-testing,” stated the Inspector General for Public Health in a press release on Thursday.
According to the release, rapid antigen (Ag) self-testing has its advantages and disadvantages. The tests are cheap, an individual can easily apply the test and results are obtained in a few minutes.
“On the other hand, these tests are not as reliable as the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rt-PCR) test, and large variation is seen in sensitivity and specificity between the large numbers of available tests,” said the release. “In particular also in the ability to detect Omicron. The sensitivity and specificity of a test will determine the risk for a false positive or false negative test result.”
Nevertheless, these self-tests have earned a place in combatting this pandemic by conducting preventive screening in specific settings e.g., hotel sector, large companies, schools, and health care institutions.
The import and sale of personal medical diagnostics tests are regulated by law in St. Maarten. To guarantee the quality of self-tests made available to the public and the appropriate application and follow-up during these demanding days, the Inspectorate VSA has established a policy framework. Rapid antigen self-tests may only be imported and sold by pharmacies. Import is only possible for approved antigen self-tests with an import permit from the Inspectorate.
The approved rapid self-tests are now widely available to everyone at most pharmacies on the island for between US $5.00 and $7.00. Pharmacies provide instructions on the use, and can answer questions one may have.
“A positive self-test result means that quarantine measures are to be taken and that confirmation by an rt-PCR test performed by a lab is required,” said the release. CPS does this free in collaboration with a lab.
The Inspectorate noted that commercial COVID test services may only be performed by an established authorised lab. The testing is supervised by the lab, run by qualified staff and results in a lab report.
Travel COVID testing requires an official lab report with the result and other data. This is performed at test sites managed by the labs.
“Preventive screening on the work floor and at schools as mentioned above happens under supervision of a lab or other qualified health care professional(s),” said the release.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/vsa-warns-of-illegal-practices-involving-rapid-antigen-testing