PCR Testing Not Good Enough: Health Advisory Board

North Cyprus News - PCR TestThe Presidential Health Advisory Board stated that the teams performing the PCR test at the country’s ports should be strengthened, and since an average of 1000 people could enter North Cyprus via plane and ferry, increasing the daily PCR test capacity from 300 to 1000-1500 would be a major problem.

Referring to an international scientific publication, the board warned the Ministry of Health that PCR testing alone is not reliable enough to permit entry into the country, and that quarantine should be applied.

The Committee also noted that the shortfalls in the health system had not been remedied since March, against the Covid-19 outbreak, and expressed its concern about how passengers are permitted to enter the country.

The Presidential Health Advisory Board directed the “questions asked by the public and the answers to which are not clear” to the Council of Ministers.

The Presidential Health Advisory Board held a meeting on June 30 with the participation of former Health Ministers Gülsen Bozkurt, Mustafa Arabacıoğlu, Filiz Besim and former Chief Physicians Bülent Dizdarlı and Ersan Berksel.

The topics discussed in the meeting were briefly explained as follows:

As a result of consultations with experts, it has been discussed that the deficiencies in the health system (lack of healthcare staff, low test capacity) have not been eliminated since the Covid-19 epidemic began in March, and therefore their anxiety about reopening the country to travellers from abroad has increased significantly. Informing the Ministry of Health about the fact that the PCR tests used previously in our country give more accurate results compared to the new PCR tests taken, the reliability of the new PCR tests taken is 60-70%, and that if quarantine is not applied, passengers apparently testing negative will be permitted to enter.

“The fact that the team performing PCR tests in our country needs to be strengthened, that the team in question can perform a maximum of 300 tests per day, but with the onset of the expansion, we will not be able to reach the point where an average of 1000 people per day will enter the country by ferry and plane, thereby increasing the capacity of the laboratories in the country. We reached a consensus that we will have great difficulties. It was emphasized that the Ministry of Health should be encouraged to increase capacity by employing contracted personnel from our newly graduated youth in our country, and if necessary, the number of devices and the number of PCR tests with less error margins should be increased”.

The report went on to say that the aim of the health service should also be to identify “silent” carriers. Recent research has shown that there were a number of false-negative test results based on SARS-Cov-2 tests. The recommendation, therefore, was to implement a 14 day quarantine rule. 

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