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DoH steps up coronavirus testing using currently available kits

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People coming to clinics, the hospital and other locations will be tested

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Dept. of Health plans to start testing 2% of the population using currently available test kits and this will increase the number of local residents tested for the coronavirus, according to DoH epidemiologist Dr. Aifili John Tufa.

Durning the May 24th ASG coronavirus task force meeting, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga instructed the LBJ Medical Center and Health Department officials to come up with a policy plan for community-based testing of 20% of the population using 25,000 coronavirus test-kits received by the hospital.

However, the LBJ test-machine is not operational yet but the governor directed DoH to start working on implementing community based testing, as DoH has started testing first responders and healthcare workers.

Dr. Tufa, during the DoH presentation at this past Sunday’s task force meeting — after presenting on the global outlook of the virus — says that DoH have tested 240 individuals with 126 samples collected by LBJ, 113 collected by DoH and 1 from the VA clinic, as of May 31 and all came back negative.

“The number of people to be tested is expected to increase” as DoH has submitted its plan to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)s to start testing 2% of the population.

Based on the plan, DoH will test those coming to its clinics, the hospital and other locations. “We’re going to ask you for a sample for COVID-19 testing,” he said, noting that they’re hoping to test about 1,100 a month.

As of may 31st, DoH has 2,725 tests on hand, with 1,514 reserved for symptomatic patients and 1,211 for community based testing. And more test-kits are being requested from the feds.

And DoH has already started testing first responders and healthcare workers — with 24 from LBJ, 26 from DoH and 9 from the American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency —  and all were negative.

He said DoH is working on scheduling testing for first responders from other agencies, such as Department of Public Safety, including the fire bureau, and local Department of Homeland Security. DoH is awaiting the final list from the Emergency Operations Center.

Meanwhile, DoH reminded the public early this week that the Fifth Amended Declaration continues restrictions through July 1st, although certain of the restrictions have been lifted.

“But please be cautious, continue to practice hand hygiene and cough etiquette, disinfect commonly touched surfaces, stay home if sick with flu-like symptoms, wear a cloth face covering and call 219 to report and ask for assistance,” according to the DoH reminder.

The public can call 219 for any Public Health COVID-19 related questions.