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Covid immunity testing on way

April 8 - 14 , 2020
Gulf Weekly Covid immunity testing on way

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

A 10-minute rapid coronavirus immunity test is expected to be available to hospitals as early as next week, according to Bahrain’s oldest hospital with a history of combating disease outbreaks on the island.

The National Health and Regulatory Authority (NHRA) is currently reviewing three variants of the blood testing kit, which will let tested individuals know if they have developed an immunity to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

American Mission Hospital (AMH)’s chief executive Dr George Cheriyan anticipates it to be made available to hospitals within the next two weeks.

Dr George told GulfWeekly exclusively: “Three different brands of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing kits have come into the market, which will give us a quick result on whether a patient’s blood has antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 RNA virus (the medical term for the Covid-19 virus). While the technology is fairly standard, NHRA is looking at the sensitivity and reliability of each kit. Once the go ahead is given, these test kits will be available for testing. Preference would be given for healthcare workers as their status allows them to return back to work if they are immune. The test normally takes about 10 minutes and is known as Point of Care testing.”

This measure is the latest in a series of initiatives undertaken under the direction of the government executive committee, chaired by HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, as well as the National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus.

Last week, the NHRA granted licences to private hospitals to provide medical care for active asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 at a handful of hotels around the country, as long as they are monitored by a specialised medical team. These include the Elite Resort and Spa, which will be supported and monitored by the AMH.

Dr George added: “The most recent initiative to involve hotels and hospitals in the Covid-19 quarantine will give the approximately 3,000 Bahraini citizens, slated to return to the kingdom over the next two months, a choice between being quarantined at private medical facilities, at their own cost, or at government-provided facilities.

“Anybody coming from abroad will have to be quarantined for 14 days. Now they have the option of opting for a hotel, as long as it is supported and monitored by a medical institution.” 

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