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Apr 27, 2020

What’s Going On with Those Test Kits?

Close to a thousand persons have been tested for COVID-19, but the Ministry of Health is running out of supplies needed to carry out those tests. In fact, there are only two weeks of testing material, including swabs and reagents, remaining in stock in Belize. Today, Doctor Marvin Manzanero confirmed that they have been having issues with getting swabs, reagents and personal protective gear and other equipment in the fight against COVID-19 into Belize because those which have been paid for and were en route to Belize have been confiscated by the United States. Other countries where it is being sourced have also run out of these components.


Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“The next batch of ventilators was due to come in; we hope that that will arrive this week. We are not using the traditional plane route; I believe those are coming by ship and taking a little longer to come here. The same thing with P.P.E.s; we have not been able to get them in country as yet. We have a little bit of delay in terms of reagents and our swabs; we routinely would be sending through AmeriJet, but it didn’t come during the week; the flight arrived until Saturday. Our swabs were apparently not on that flight; we did not get them. They were apparently confiscated which I have to determine what exactly happened to the swabs and trying to find alternative routes for getting it here. The x-rays that were also paid for weeks ago have also not gotten here and the route would be by plane through the U.S. so we are trying to find alternative routes if we can’t go through the U.S.  The reagents can get bit tricky along with the swabs and I think all Caribbean countries, as I understand from the meeting from last week, are going through the same process. We have reactions which are the tests that you do that was gotten through PAHO, but you still need your enzymes to do extraction of the virus, purification of the virus. So all countries are having difficulty in sourcing those key elements, but for now we will have to continue doing testing. We had two thousand five hundred reactions from PAHO; that’s the amount of tests that you can do providing that you have everything else. We got eight extraction enzyme kits on Saturday. I don’t know how many were used through this weekend because it is not necessarily one to one ratio. Every Monday we update our list to see what is needed. It is not that they are not being procured. You would recall that more than a month ago when we had a discussion, we had said we had procured forty kits of ninety-six tests; only ten of those kits have arrived. Even though they had been paid more than a month ago, thirty have not arrived in Belize as yet.”

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