(ANTIGUA OBSERVER) – Health officials have begun testing dead people for Covid-19 after the country recorded an unusual number of sudden death cases in males within the past month.
Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph said that the testing would have to be done “rather quickly” after the person has died.
“Most of the tests that we have done on people who have died suddenly have come back negative but, because of what has developed and because of the unknown, we are erring on the side of caution,” the minister told Observer radio yesterday afternoon.
And despite just hours earlier telling a press conference that none of the abrupt fatalities in recent months had returned a positive Covid-19 result, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas later admitted one in fact had.
The CMO told Observer last night that the ministry had conducted blood tests on two sudden death cases – and one had been positive.
She would not share which one of the deceased tested positive but did reveal it was not the man who collapsed and died shortly after completing quarantine at the Hawksbill resort.
Minister Joseph said the CMO has recommended that all sudden deaths should now be tested for the coronavirus as a precaution.
During Tuesday’s press conference, the CMO said even while tests return negative, the occurrence still needs to be “further investigated”.
“Because they are sudden deaths, they would be coroner’s cases and the coroner would be investigating those deaths but, the Ministry of Health, we are also looking into the circumstances surrounding those deaths,” she said.
Meanwhile, people who have been quarantined will be among the priority groups to be tested once local testing becomes available.
“We are going to be testing people who are in quarantine,” the Minister said, adding that priority would be to test healthcare workers first and workers who care for elderly people who reside in health institutions.
“Healthcare workers are crucial because they’re the ones who treat individuals and you don’t want anybody with disease to be treating anyone,” he said.