Public Health Bonaire: “Is mass testing on the Coronavirus useful?”

Many opinions on whether or not to test on the Coronavirus are circulating on social media. Many people feel that mass testing should take place. From the Public Health Department we elaborate the testing policy.

International medical protocol

An international medical protocol was established on the basis of scientific knowledge and experiences elsewhere. According to this medical protocol it is considered diligently whether testing is feasible and when it is unnecessary. Someone who has not been in contact with the virus cannot be infected with the Coronavirus. If there are symptoms that may point to the Coronavirus (fever + cough or respiratory issues) then people should call the general practitioner.

Make a diagnose
The general practitioner is familiar with the history of the patients. The general practitioner assesses the complaints and contacts the specialist in infectious diseases in case of doubt. The latter specialist re-assesses the patient and examines, in association with the Public Health Department, if and when the patient could have been in contact with a Corona patient. It may, for instance, be that the patient has been in a risk area within the last 14 days. People who have been in a risk area for more than 14 days ago can no longer be infectious and should therefore not be tested. The incubation period of the virus ranges from 2 to 12 days. To honour a safe margin, 14 days are applied.

Mass preventive testing?

If there are no symptoms then testing makes no sense at all, neither in case of several symptoms. There are many different clinical pictures that correspond with the symptoms of the Coronavirus. It is up to the expertise of a doctor to assess this. There must be a reason to proceed with testing.

In case of a realistic risk that infection took place, the test is taken. The patient is then immediately placed in isolation until the result of the test is available. If the test is positive then the isolation is continued. This way the chance of infection of others is reduced. Thus far no case of Corona has been established on Bonaire yet.

Quantity of testing material
At the moment there is sufficient testing and protective material on Bonaire. We do not know how long this situation shall last and how the stocking shall be in the future, that is why the available materials are used responsibly. The distribution and supply to the Caribbean Netherlands is coordinated by VWS (‘Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport’) via the RIVM (‘National Institute for Public Health and the Environment’) and Public Health Bonaire.   

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