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Gov’t writes to private labs & clinics to stop swab tests for COVID-19

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Dr Rodgers today speaking to journalists.
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The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has ordered private medical clinics and labs that carry out rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 to stop their activities.

Secretary to the Prime Minister and Deputy Chair of the Oversight Committee, Dr. Jimmie Rodgers said the ministry has put a notice for them to stop – so that they go through a formal process including inspection from health authorities for them to meet the required standards.

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Few private clinics in Honiara have offered swab for COVID-19 at high costs compared to the government which is offering it for free.

Dr. Rodgers said it is a requirement here that every lab must apply for permission before they do tests, especially new tests (like for COVID).

In that regard, he revealed that the ministry of health has not authorized any practitioners or labs to do it.

“It does not mean they can’t (do it) but they have to follow the due process,” he explained.

Dr. Rodgers said the ministry has already put a notice for them to stop so that they go through the formal process including allowing health to access their labs and those that are doing the swabs.

 Also, he said, not all rapid antigen is approved by WHO.

“If it is not WHO approved it will cause an issue with us because we can’t meet standards,” said Dr. Rodgers – who is also a medical doctor.

Meanwhile the SPM also mentioned that private clinic Mastered Seed is amongst those that engaged in testing when they suppose not to do it.

“We have asked them to stop. They must go through the same process. They must apply, their lab is assed and the RATs are assessed. Once they pass then they can be given approval to test or swab. It is not about stopping them not to do it—but to ensure they do it in a proper way so that we maintain quality and standards,” he said.

Dr. Rodgers also revealed that the private labs that carried out tests or swabs had not given their data to the ministry of health.

He said the data is made public is only from the ministry of health.

“So we don’t have the correct data for the country,” he said.

Dr. Rodgers said once they meet those requirements then they can supply their data and also part of the system.

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