Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has called for countries to prioritize rapid antigen tests for those with COVID-19 symptoms and who are most at risk of spreading the virus.
She said it was necessary with COVID-19 surging throughout the Americas and demand for diagnostics at its highest.
Dr. Etienne told Wednesday’s weekly news conference that with 7.2 million new COVID-19 cases reported in the region over the last week, countries must expand testing at the community level to relieve pressure on hospitals, which are working overtime.
She added that it is critical for countries to “use tests smartly” at this time, especially because the region is also experiencing an active flu season.
“We believe that the best way to scale up testing is to leverage rapid antigen tests which offer a diagnosis in minutes and not days. Rapid tests do not require specialized training or expensive equipment, and they can be deployed to primary health centers where they can reach more people closer to home,” she suggested.
Edited by Jesus Chan
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