St Augustine Medical Laboratory deputy director Dr Shari Ramsaran takes data from clients who visited the facility for COVID-19 tests yesterday.

As more people rush to get tested for the COVID-19 virus, St Augustine Medical Laboratory (STAML) officials said yesterday that within the past month they had been testing hundreds daily as fears of community transmission began circulating.

Dressed in a hazmat suit complete with her face mask and face shield as she triaged arriving patients at the St Augustine lab yesterday, STAML deputy director Dr Shari Ramsaran confirmed the increased numbers, as she said people are fearful of contracting the virus.

Ramsaran was unable to say exactly how many positive and negative cases they had recorded but said the positive samples are sent directly to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the results are forwarded to the Chief Medical Officer and the figures included in the ministry’s daily updates.

She said they “had been testing in the hundreds daily,” since they began operating a drive-through facility at their St Augustine and San Fernando branches every Tuesday and Thursday.

“For the past month, we have been swamped,” Ramsaran said, adding the results are usually received with 24 to 48 hours.

Ramsaran said after patients are tested she advises they remain in self-quarantine. If the results are negative, the doctor issues the results to the patients but if positive, the doctor calls the patient to ensure they are in isolation and advises them their sample is being sent to CARPHA, following which the Ministry of Health takes over the case.

Pressed to say what trends they had observed in the past month, she said, “The number of positives we get on a daily basis are increasing. That would be the trend.”

Ramsaran called on all private institutions to work with the public sector as T&T battles the pandemic.

“I am very concerned that the virus is not sparing anyone and I don’t know if T&T has gotten it yet,” she said, adding it was alarming that the poor choices of some may inadvertently lead to more people becoming infected.

“Individuals also need to be concerned about protecting themselves and to realise this is an emergency across the entire world and it is a pandemic. We need to step in and work together with the people who are enforcing the law and the people that are making the regulations,” Ramsaran said.

In its update yesterday evening, the Ministry of Health said a total of 81 people tested positive up to 7 pm yesterday. This brought the number of active cases to 615 and the total number of positive samples collected since March 12 to 767.