Cuba Changing Rules for Covid-19 Testing & Isolation

Health personnel brought in to reinforce the hospital in Cardenas, Matanzas, Cuba. Photo: Giron /Facebook

Starting in Matanzas, the Cuban Health Ministry will now consider as Covid-19 positive any patient with symptoms who tests positive in an antigen test.

By Diario de Cuba

HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) decided to consider Covid-19 positive from now on for any patient with symptoms of the disease who tests positive in an antigen exam. Before only a PCR test was considered.

Minister Jose Angel Portal announced this measure in Matanzas, a province amid a sanitary chaos, as part of what he called “a new protocol” to face a complex epidemiological situation. He also said that this procedure will later be applied throughout Cuba, according to the report on the official Cubadebate website.

According to the official, from now on people will not wait for the result of a PCR test, which takes longer than the antigen test. Portal based the decision on the fact that such tests have shown a 92% concordance with the PCRs throughout Cuba and more than 95% in Matanzas.

The new care protocol provides that after a positive determinaton the patient will be taken to an isolation center and subjected to treatment with Nasalferon, one of its own drugs derived from interferons that the MINSAP has applied to those infected since the beginning of the pandemic.

In the event that the person has symptoms, has been in contact with someone infected or lives in an area with a large spread of the virus, but the antigen test is negative, a PCR will be performed.

Finally, if the person is symptomatic, the antigen test is negative and is not a patient contact, the test will be repeated after 48 hours.

MINSAP stressed that all contacts of confirmed cases “have to remain isolated even if they test negative” to avoid transmissibility.

Miguel Díaz-Canel and Manuel Marrero, who together with the entire Government are facing an avalanche of demands on social networks to act against the expansion of the new coronavirus, decided this Wednesday to take a tour of some of the central provinces most affected by the disease.

On the way back from Sancti Spiritus and Cienfuegos, the president visited Villa Clara where he assured, that “all the conditions exist to face the complex epidemiological situation that the country is experiencing.”

However, it was not until Tuesday that MINSAP sent groups of reinforcement doctors and mobilized recent graduates in Matanzas, after the doctors and nurses at hospitals denounced the overload situation they are living in that territory, the epicenter of the pandemic in the Island over the recent weeks.

Díaz-Canel also warned about the need to act swiftly so that “the situation does not exceed capacities.” Marrero directed “to continue reducing mobility and demand compliance with the protocols,” reported the state’s Cuban News Agency.

The official Matanzas newspaper, Giron, reported that a brigade of 18 health workers from a Naval Hospital in Havana, arrived in Cárdenas, to support local medical personnel in one of the municipalities with the worst situation, where adult and pediatric patients has tripled in the last week.

Giron further announced that more than 500 health professionals will arrive in the coming hours to join the hospitals, overwhelmed and with hardly any resources to attend the avalanche of patients.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.