Public Health briefs private clinics on coronavirus testing

DPHSS director Linda DeNorcey told the Pacific News Center that screening procedures are in effect in Hong Kong and here on Guam.

A team from the Department of Public Health and Social Services led by director Linda DeNorcey is making the rounds of various medical clinics on island to provide up to date information about the status and testing for the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

DeNorcey and her team began the rounds of island medical clinics by visiting the American Medical Center in Mangilao.

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Public Health’s laboratory has been chosen as one of the few locations in the world to receive the newly developed novel coronavirus test kits recently developed by the Centers for Disease Control.

“You know, CDC, we have a good relationship with them. We’re one of the grantees and they are the grantor. And so because we’re in a very strategic location and Guam being a territory of the United States, we’re very fortunate to have the test kit. I believe that we’re getting one box which can analyze about 400 specimen samples,” DeNorcey said.

DeNorcey and her team went to the clinic today to answer questions about the testing procedures and clarify any misunderstandings about the nature of the virus and how it is spread..

“Our hope is that we clarify a lot of things, of course, and that’s why my staff is here. We are going outreaching to any requests that are made. We’ve done this at GMHA, and we’re trying to go through some things that are not very clear. One of them is, of course, the laboratory procedures, like how is that going to be done,” DeNorcey said

DeNorcey said the precise steps for coronavirus testing await the arrival of the test kits which will include instructions but clearly, she said. samples will have to be taken from patients and analyzed.

“It will be more likely the nasal pharyngeal, going through the nose and taking a swab. And then they would use the kit and run the test through it and then put it in the machine that would analyze the test results,” De Norcey said.

The machines mentioned by DeNorcey are AVI 7500 machines. They have in the past been used to test for influenza and dengue. She denied speculations that some of the machines were broken or damaged by the recent fire that forced public health to relocate its laboratory and all its offices to other locations

“They were working all the way until the fire occurred. When the fire occurred, of course, we cannot operate them because we had to shut them off to preserve them. We don’t want them to break or be damaged. So we had them immediately transferred out of Public Health. So anytime you move any equipment they have to be re-calibrated. And that’s what it took,” DeNorcey said.

Up until now all testing for the coronavirus has had to be done at CDC headquarters in Atlanta but to date Guam Public Health has not sent any samples from Guam to Georgia.

“The cases that we had … there were about two that were suspected … they were determined not to be of the criteria that matched so it was not necessary at this point in time to send it out,” DeNorcey said.