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Aug 27, 2020

COVID-19 Testing in the Private Sector – Can It Happen?

Marvin Manzanero

The Central Lab is admittedly limited in resources, so is COVID-19 testing a possibility in private sector? It can be, according to Doctor Marvin Manzanero. Presently, the private medical facilities can only swab for the virus in their suspected patients after which the swab is sent for processing at the Central Medical Lab that is done free of cost for the private.  Manzanero says that Ministry of Health welcomes private facilities to embark on the next step of processing their samples. But to do that testing they need the equipment to do PCR testing. He says that at time no private entity has the equipment although two facilities have been making queries.  He says the ministry stands ready to facilitate them once they acquire the equipment.  The DHS explains that the Ministry will still be involved at some point to do the contact tracing should private sector do its own testing.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“We have never said no to private sector. I think it is important discuss because people have the perception that we are not wanting private sector to do that. If any private sector has the ability to do PCR testing and is willing to do it, by all means. We can provide all the guidance. The staff has been trained adequately through our resources and we have no difficulty at all in allowing people to come and do PCR. The challenge and that is not to say that private sector can’t go and try to source it, it is getting the re-agents into country in due time. We have to mobilize different resources to get it here.”


Andrea Polanco

“So, presently, as far as you know doc, nobody else that infrastructure to do it outside of the central lab?”


Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“They don’t have the equipment, as far as I know. Two entities have reached out to us to see what our take would be. And our take is simple, of you meet all the requirements we can guide and get the international agencies to come and review your lab flow and by all means – it is not an exclusive situation. The only thing we would request is that those results get reported to us for obvious reasons.   At the end of the day once you have a positive case, it routinely becomes the Ministry of Health’s responsibility. I don’t know that private sector is doing contact tracing. It will still arrive back to us. So, even if you are positive in private sector, we capture the data and we need to know where your contacts are to follow that because if eventually it is a public health problem as well.”

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