PAHO/WHO Belize donates COVID-19 supplies to increase testing capacity

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To support the ongoing efforts in expanding SARS-COV-2 testing strategies in Belize, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) donated 49,975 SD Standard COVID-19 Antigen test kits, 45,000 SD Standard COVID-19 Antigen test kits along with seven units of SD Standard COVID-19 Antigen Control and two units of Rapid Diagnostic Test Analyzers (RDT) to the Ministry of Health and Wellness. The importance of timely and accurate testing, according to a statement from PAHO, is crucial to the prevention, control and management of COVID-19. The use of rapid antigen tests, then, can contribute to the enhancement of the overall COVID-19 testing capacity in the country. It provides a shorter time to receive a result, between 15 and 30 minutes, is cost-effective, and allows for early detection of cases. This enables the rapid start of contact tracing, isolation and quarantine measures contributing to the control of the pandemic.
“The rapid antigen tests, controls and the analyzers will enhance not just the laboratory capacity but the over-all health system responsiveness,” said PAHO/WHO Health Systems and Services Technical Advisor, Dr. Edwin Bolastig. Apart from the timeliness and performance of the rapid antigen tests, the simplicity of use will prove a major advantage when conducting tests in rural and remote areas of the country. It is important to note, however, that these rapid antigen tests do not replace the PCR testing but complement the overall testing capacity. PAHO/WHO still recommends the PCR as the gold standard test for SARS-COV-2. The rapid antigen use is recommended for the testing of persons with symptoms of COVID-19 and contacts of confirmed cases.
In working together with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and other partners, PAHO/WHO Belize starts the year continuing to support the country in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by procuring tests, equipment and supplies, providing technical guidance to the ministry and the country of Belize.