The Ministry of Health’s rapid antigen testing capacity for COVID-19 has received a major boost with the donation of $32M from ExxonMobil Guyana that will enable the purchase of 20,000 kits. The cheque was handed over on Monday at the Ministry’s Brickdam, Georgetown office.
Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony was on hand to receive the cheque from President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge.
“We are very happy to accept your contribution to acquiring these tests for us,” Anthony said on behalf of the health ministry and government.
He said the ministry was initially focusing on one test being used in the country and that is the PCR test which he said is the gold standard for testing. “But as the disease started evolving more testing modalities became available which included the rapid antigen test,” he said.
Health officials have had particular challenges in Guyana in rolling out PCR testing due to the remote location of some communities. The health minister said doing the swabbing in those communities presented a logistical challenge in moving the samples to the Capital City, Georgetown.
“With this particular test that you are helping us to acquire, we are going to be able to remove a lot of these barriers because once our health staff is trained, they would be able to do some of these tests in those communities within 20 minutes. In some cases, maximum, perhaps 30 minutes,” Anthony said. “That really is a game changer.”
President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge, in brief remarks, acknowledged the sacrifices the health care community has made in helping to keep the country safe. “Thanks to the whole health care community, worldwide, but especially for us here in Guyana.”
He said ExxonMobil appreciates the support it has had from the Guyana government for how the company has managed to keep its operations running.
“As many of you know we have four rigs, a producing facility, projects going on and remarkably enough our team has been able to keep that offshore operation going and a large part of that is due the support in bring people in and out of the country to be quarantined…,” he said.
To date the company has moved over 6,000 people offshore without recording a single case of the pandemic, he pointed out.
“We’ve also, up to date, spent over 75 million Guyana dollars supporting communities that have been challenged locally by the disease; unable to work, difficult to move around the country,” he stated. “That’s gone through the CDC, Rotary Clubs, Salvation Army, just to help the communities make it through these difficult times.”
OilNOW understands the GY$32 million is in addition to the GY$75 million already provided through the various efforts Routledge outlined.