17 Sep 2020

Call to decentralise Covid testing in Fiji

8:35 pm on 17 September 2020

A Fiji health official says there is a need to decentralise Covid-19 testing across the country's divisional hospitals.

Health checks are ongoing in Fiji in an effort to combat Covid-19.

Health checks are ongoing in Fiji in an effort to combat Covid-19. Photo: Facebook / Fiji government

Currently testing is being done at the Centre for Communicable Disease Control in Suva.

The Chief Medical Officer at Nadi Hospital, Pablo Romakin, said decentralisation was necessary due to the high number of samples being gathered daily in the town.

Dr Romakin said the tests would also be available within minutes or within hours.

He said it took the centre 24 to 48 hours to release the results.

Dr Pablo Romakin.

Dr Pablo Romakin. Photo: Supplied

Addressing members of the Fiji College of General Practitioners, Dr Romakin said patients in a critical condition would benefit greatly as it would allow medical officials to determine quickly whether the patient is really a confirmed case of Covid or not.

"This is because our management depends on whether the patient is positive or not plus the other factors that come with how the other healthcare workers will be exposed for that particular patient," he said.

"Unnecessary tests will be avoided if we know the status of the patient. So if we take the sample today, we send it on the early morning flight, unless it is urgent, we send it by land and within an hour or so with the sample there, they can process it.

"Depending on the number of people in the facility, say about 100 or 150 and that is the most that we in Nadi have sent over to them."

Dr Romakin said Lautoka could carry out similar tests if the service was decentralised.

"Nadi sends them about 150 to 200 samples every day so they can process this by RT-PCR (real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction).

"But they also do gene-expert testing, especially for certain requests because with gene-expert, they can process one cartridge for one test.

"Hopefully at the Lautoka Hospital, because they have a gene-expert machine, they will be able to do some small-scale testing and conduct the gene-expert testing."

Fiji now has six active cases of Covid-19, all in border quarantine.