• The San Juan Daily Star

Most people take the COVID-19 test incorrectly, Health chief warns

Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López

By The Star Staff

Island Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López said Thursday that given the rise in coronavirus infections and the confirmation of the fourth case of the omicron variant, he sees the need to explain the correct method of performing COVID-19 detection tests.

“It is the demand. We have 301,330 tests available. Every week we receive around 20,000 tests,” the Health secretary said at a press conference. “We are talking about when we should do the test because I have had cases of people who are tested daily because they … went to a supermarket and are afraid of having COVID.”

“If you were exposed to a person who had COVID, by definition, less than six feet away and for more than 15 minutes, there is no way you can go to work, you have to go into quarantine if you are vaccinated,” Mellado López said. “The fifth day is when you take the test. Therefore, the vast majority are not being tested properly.”

“And I understand people’s concern,” he added, insisting that there is no shortage of COVID-19 testing.

Avoiding mass events strongly urged

Mellado López insisted that the population not attend mass events.

“If a person wants to go to a mass event -- that at this time most of them have been canceled -- he is exposed to, first of all, he has to stand in line to get the test because the Department of Health does supply it,” he said. “And he is exposed to infection because the test is not a shield.”

Melissa Marzán, the island’s chief epidemiology officer, said that for the period from Dec. 12 to Dec. 22, 27,143 cases of COVID-19 have been detected. By comparison, from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, 16,189 accumulated, which is why she said that in 10 days a little more than 27,000 cases have accumulated. Seventy-five percent of those cases are in people 41 years of age or younger with a median of 33 years. On Wednesday, 7,048 positive cases of COVID-19 were detected.

“Vaccination continues to be important for reducing transmission,” Marzán said, adding that of the 27,000 cases, 93 percent are not vaccinated or have not gotten the booster dose.

Fourth case of omicron detected

Marzán also spoke about the fourth official confirmed case of omicron, in the Ponce Region

“It is a minor from zero to five years old,” she said.

Regarding the anticipated requests of some groups so that school classes in January are not conducted in person, Mellado López insisted that the public policy of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and President Joseph Biden is that the last thing to be canceled is face-to-face classes.

“We still cannot anticipate that. I would tell you that the vast majority of teachers who have not been vaccinated, have to get vaccinated, just like non-teaching employees,” Mellado López said. “The vaccination effort is being made with children. We will talk about it in due course, but with the schools the priority continues to be that we have face-to-face classes. The last thing that is going to close is the school, and there are mechanisms to protect our children.”

Health Dept. recommendations

As part of the Health Department’s recommendations to citizens, hand washing and use of masks were recommended, even at home if there are suspicions of having been in crowded places. Also maintain isolation from participation in daily activities, and avoid sharing in common places from home. Other recommendations include suspension of visits, protection of the elderly, and taking the antibody test five days after entering preventive isolation. People with booster doses do not have to quarantine.

Latest COVID report

The Department of Health’s COVID-19 report on Thursday indicated some 1,220 confirmed positive cases and one death.

The deceased person is a 98-year-old man from the Mayagüez Region.

The monitoring covers the period from Dec. 7 to Dec. 21, 2021.

The positivity rate stands at 18.96 percent.

There are 89 hospitalized adults, along with 31 minors.

With one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine there are at least 2,744,074 people. With the doses completed there are 2,449,492 people.

The total attributed deaths as of Thursday’s report was 3,288.

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