QCOSTARICA – The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), locally known as the “Caja”, will begin using rapid tests to detect COVID-19 starting next week.
Its use was approved by the Ministry of Health on September 28, given the increase in infections that were occurring in the country.
However, according to the CCSS, the antigen tests were not applied earlier because they were developing a protocol.
The director of Health Services Development of the CCSS, Mario Mora, mentioned the rapid tests will only be used for symptomatic patients between day 1 and 5 of infection.
“We will be starting possibly in the course of the following week to apply these tests, we have chosen 17 health areas. This has a very specific treatment, for this we have needed to train the staff,” said Mora.
This will help the Caja increase the number of daily tests it currently performs.
In the case of these tests – they were only authorized to the Caja for their application–, if the person tests negative, they will need a PCR test to confirm the result.
The CCSS will also seek to increase the number of screenings it is currently carrying out.
“The number of tests that are being carried out is between 4,000 and 4,500 daily, but antigen tests are also going to be applied that will increase this amount to more than 5,000 tests,” said Dr. Angie Cervantes, microbiologist from the Caja’s Health Services Development Directorate.
This has been one of the criticisms of the experts, who point out that the country needs to increase its number of daily tests. This is because today the Caja is only detecting the cases of people who arrive with symptoms in the health areas.
The CCSS reported that it has 8 COVID-19 diagnostic clinical laboratories that support the processing of network tests, which are located in the hospitals San Juan de Dios, Mexico, Geriatrics and Gerontology and Nacional de Niños in San Jose, the Monsignor Sanabria in Puntarenas, the Max Peralta in Cartago, the Enrique Baltodano in Liberia, and the Tony Facio in Limón.
Two other medical centers attend to their own demand, such as Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia and the Nacional de Las Mujeres Adolfo Carit (women’s hospital), both in San Jose.
In addition, the Escalante Pradilla hospital in Pérez Zeledón, the San Vicente de Paúl hospital in Heredia will soon be added, as well as increasing the capacity of the Calderón Guardia.
The CCSS has not yet provided the list of those 17 health areas where they will be applying rapid tests.