Bahrain to ramp up virus testing

MANAMA: The number of tests is expected to increase in the coming days as Bahrain has introduced new additional measures for travellers arriving into the country effective today.

The GDN reported last week that under the updated measures announced by the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (Covid-19), all travellers will be required to undergo an additional RT-PCR test on the fifth day of arrival, in addition to other mandatory tests.

Travellers spending more than 10 days in the kingdom are obliged to take a third mandatory RT-PCR test on the 10th day of stay.

Meanwhile, an average of 5.75 per cent of those tested for Covid-19 every day were found to be infected, according to statistics from February 9 until Saturday.

A total of 267,030 tests were conducted this month (until Saturday).

The PCR analysis is a laboratory technique conducted to find small amounts of DNA in a sample, using a process known as amplification. During PCR amplification, the DNA of interest is copied repeatedly until there is enough of it for analysis and detection.

The GDN earlier reported that aggressive testing was among the measures adopted by Bahrain’s Health Ministry, as part of the ‘trace, track and treat’ strategy followed since last year.

The ministry also conducts random testing on people, while public can call the health hotline 444 to get themselves checked or can get it done through free testing facilities across Bahrain as well as the mobile testing units.

Private healthcare facilities also offer paid testing options.

Taskforce senior member and Salmaniya Medical Complex infectious and internal diseases consultant Dr Jameela Salman had earlier stressed that the higher number of tests indicated the tracing of active cases, which helped Bahrain in building clear plans to track the rate of infection.

This was echoed by senior officials including Health Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Waleed Al Manea and taskforce monitoring committee head Dr Manaf Al Qahtani.

Bahrain also introduced rapid antigen Covid-19 tests in November. The test performed as a nasal swab, gives results within 15 minutes with an accuracy of more than 93pc.

The kit, priced at BD4 each, is available in authorised pharmacies across Bahrain.

However, the RT-PCR test remains the approved diagnostic tool in the kingdom.

The GDN reported in April that Bahrain has spent millions of dinars in testing its people for the coronavirus, free of cost, under directives from His Majesty King Hamad. The minimum cost to conduct one test is estimated at BD149, according to Dr Al Manea, who said at the time that the country had an open budget for free testing and treatment of citizens and residents.

According to studies, when a sample of 100 is tested, results of 96 to 97pc are accurate with molecular testing (RT PCR), while it’s less than 85pc in case of antigen testing. Yet another testing procedure for Covid-19 is antibody testing which is not conducted in Bahrain.




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