How is the Ministry of Health monitoring for COVID-19 in Vanuatu?
During an outbreak where a disease is being spread in the community, the Ministry of Health will conduct disease surveillance. Disease surveillance is the continuous, systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of health-related data. It is used to detect, confirm, and manage cases of COVID-19.
What are some of activities undertaken as part of disease surveillance?
Case Investigation:Surveillance teams conduct interviews to find out more information about someone who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and if there is a chance they have been exposed, conduct laboratory tests to see if they are infected.
Contact Tracing: The process of identifying people who may have been in contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 and ensuring they stay in quarantine to ensure they do not develop symptoms.
Syndromic Surveillance: Collecting information from health clinics, hospitals and pharmacies to identify any “signals” of disease transmission in the community.
If someone is interviewed or tested it does not necessarily mean they have COVID-19. A laboratory test is required to confirm a COVID-19 case.
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How is Testing for COVID-19 conducted in Vanuatu? The most accurate way to diagnose COVID-19 is a laboratory test that is done on a sample collected by swabbing the back of the nose and throat of a patient suspected of having COVID-19.
Who will be tested for COVID-19 in Vanuatu? Only those who meet specific criteria will be able to be tested for COVID-19:
Those who meet the case definition (including those who have clinical symptoms, and travel history or contact with a COVID-19 case).
Those in quarantine identified as travelling from a high risk area (who will be tested even if they do not have symptoms).
Why do we not use Rapid Testing?
Other types of COVID-19 tests that are being discussed in the media include tests that can be conducted outside of the laboratory. Antigen and antibody tests are two examples. These tests are not very accurate or reliable for the detection of COVID-19.
In line with recommendations from the World Health Organisation, the Vanuatu Ministry of Health will not support using rapid point-of-care antigen or antibody tests to diagnose COVID-19 in Vanuatu. Only validated tests will be used.
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