December 8, 2023

MANDATORY Covid-19 testing is still in effect at most private hospitals despite the World’s Health Organisation (WHO) no longer classifying the Covid-19 virus a global emergency.

However, a few institutions have decided to reduce their measures. One such institution is the St Augustine Private Hospital.

Speaking to the Express via phone yesterday, a health official at St Augustine Private said, “As of Monday, I don’t think it will be mandatory to have to do the Covid tests. It will now be based on the doctors’ discretion.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, having a Covid test done was a prerequisite for any patient requiring a surgical procedure at a private facility, at an additional cost to the patient.

As the spread of the virus decreased, some private hospitals moved from a mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to antigen tests, which cost significantly less.

At present, an antigen test at St Augustine Private Hospital is $300.

It is the same cost at St Clair Medical Centre. However, a PCR test at St Clair is $1200.

And, according to officials there, patients admitted to a ward are still required to foot the $1200 bill for a PCR test.

Visitors overnighting with the patient are also still required to have a Covid test done, which is a rapid test costing $350.

According to one health worker at St Clair, once a patient is taken to a ward, they still have to take the test.

Similarly, at Southern Medical Clinic in San Fernando, rapid antigen tests costing $300 are still required for anyone being fully admitted to a ward or having a surgical procedure done.

At WestShore Medical Private Hospital in Cocorite, patients being admitted through the Accident and Emergency department and visitors staying overnight with patients are all required to pay $350 for an antigen Covid test to be taken before entering the ward.

Also speaking to the Express via phone yesterday, an employee at Medical Associates located in St Joseph said the Covid-19 is still infectious and, as a result, the hospital has not changed its rules, including mandatory mask-wearing upon entering the health facility, an additional $350 for an antigen test for patients having surgical procedures done and $350 for their visitors staying overnight on the ward.

However, while the world adapts to a post-pandemic life, it may be based on the doctors’ discretion, she added.

Last Friday, WHO’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that the Covid-19 virus, which claimed 4,390 lives locally, is no longer a public health emergency of international concern.

On July 17 last year, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh ended the mandatory mask-wearing in public.

However, the mandate still applies to visits to healthcare facilities which includes hospitals and clinics.


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