09 de abril de 2020
English - News

Drive-through Covid-19 testing station helping battle virus in Puerto Rico

By Jorge J. Muñiz Ortiz

San Juan, Mar 24 (efe-epa).- Fast-food restaurants generally offer self-service for hamburgers, french fries and other tasty fare, but these days there's another kind of fast-service station in the Puerto Rican capital - and in many other places around the world - that's completely different: A drive-through center where people can get rapid testing done to detect suspected cases of coronavirus.

You can go to these self-Covid-19 testing stations, very much like a fast-food drive-through, use a cotton swab to provide a mucus and saliva sample and speak with medical personnel through your vehicle window - and then get back the results of your test, although at present that takes about four days.

One such testing station is located in front of a hospital in San Juan.

This week, the capital of the US commonwealth set up a self-service center where coronavirus testing can be done with an eye toward helping limit the spread of the sometimes deadly Covid-19 pneumonia that the virus causes. San Juan thus joins other Latin American capitals in establishing centers of this kind to cut the costs to the state of performing testing to detect people infected with the rampant virus.

It is in the Rio Piedras area of San Juan, at the Dr. Javier J. Anton Health Center, where capital Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, decided to set up the island's first self-service center, following the examples of other such centers in Germany, Spain, Italy and South Korea, along with Denver, Colorado, and one that will soon be operating in New York state.

To get a test performed, a person who believes - either through detecting symptoms or knowing they have been exposed to a coronavirus carrier - that they may be infected needs to call the telephone number set up by capital authorities to deal with the health emergency.

During the call, the medical team questions the caller about their symptoms.

The mayor told EFE that people will not be deemed candidates for testing unless they can confirm they've been with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19 or they have pre-existing conditions like respiratory problems, cancer, HIV or are pregnant.

If the medical personnel conclude that the person should have a test, they give them a control number that they must present when they get to the self-Covid-19 center.

"The medical criterion at all times is that which will lead to you getting service and taking care of your health," the mayor said.

On the day that the person comes to get tested after reporting coronavirus symptoms - including fever above 101 F (38 C), dry cough, sore throat or nasal secretions - they will have to have those symptoms corroborated.

A uniformed municipal police officer - but outfitted with a medical gown or lab coat, facemask and rubber gloves - will orient the person as to what will happen next.

After that, the person goes through a second checkpoint, where they will deal with police and health personnel.

Then, they will be required to don a white outfit that covers them from head to toe, along with a facemask, purple rubber gloves and shoe protectors to prevent them from infecting anyone else if they have the virus.

The health personnel, as they attend to the sick person, will take their control number and ask them their name to compare it with a list of the day's scheduled patients and then give them the OK to be taken care of by other medical personnel at the health center.

Then, they have to fill out two reports, one for the local Health Department and the other for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based in Atlanta.

The patient then comes in contact with the medical team that will do the actual coronavirus test, which consists of taking a deep swab sample from both nostrils.

If the person has a fever or some kind of acute symptoms, they will be asked to enter the hospital itself for additional testing.

If necessary, ambulances are available to transport patients to the San Juan Municipal Hospital.

On Tuesday, the Rio Piedras center has 75 people on its list of testees, and on days later this week authorities expect to attend to 100 per day.

"Here there's no co-pay, no deductible, there's no referral from your doctor. You can be a US citizen or not, naturalized, not have papers, you're just a person. Period. They also don't have to be San Juan residents," Cruz told EFE.

On Monday, the city received several boxes full of infrared thermometers, which are also used in the testing process.

All the samples taken from prospective patients take four days to be analyzed, the mayor said.

"We're ready to speak with any mayor who wants to set up this kind of system and tell them what the needed resources are. In times of crisis it's important to act, it's not a competition," she said.

As of Tuesday, in Puerto Rico there were 39 known cases of Covid-19 and two people have died from the disease.




Histórico de noticias
US surpasses 400K coronavirus cases, 13,000 Covid-19 deaths

New York/Washington, Apr 8 (efe-epa).- The United States on Wednesday surpassed 400,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 13,000 deaths, with the disease...

Brazil captures images of moment when coronavirus infects a cell

Sao Paulo, Apr 8 (efe-epa).- Brazilian scientists have captured images of the exact moment when the coronavirus infects a cell, Brazil's Oswaldo Cruz...

Online porn booming amid quarantines

By Macarena Soto and Javier Romualdo

Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: April 7

(Update: Adds the WHO, Spain, Puerto Rico, Latin America, China)

New York seeing hopeful signs despite largest daily virus death toll

New York/Washington, Apr 7 (efe-epa).- New York state experienced its highest daily Covid-19 death toll on Tuesday - 731 - but at the same time confirmed...

Heading toward summer without movie ticket sales due to coronavirus?

By David Villafranca.

Wisconsin's primary gets under way with in-person voting despite Covid-19

Washington, Apr 7 (efe-epa).- Pollworkers wearing facemasks and voters keeping their distance from one another were at the polling places on Tuesday in...

Wall Street rebounds, Dow Jones gains 7.7 pct. amid optimism on pandemic peak

New York, Apr 6 (efe-epa).- Wall Street rocketed upwards on Monday in the last few minutes of trading and closed with a strong 7.73 percent gain in its main...

US exceeds 10,000 Covid-19 deaths, number of new cases in Europe slowing

Washington, Apr 6 (efe-epa).- The United States on Monday surpassed 10,000 coronavirus deaths, while the number of confirmed cases rose to almost 350,000,...

Latin America mobilizing to deal with hunger amid pandemic

By Javier Castro Bugarin, Carlos Meneses and Raul Martinez

Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: April 6

(Adds US, UK, Italy, Denmark, Morocco and Latin America)

Mexican Indians challenge quarantine with Holy Week procession

San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico, Apr 5 (efe-epa).- About 300 members of Mexico's Tzotzil Indian tribe on Sunday challenged the nationwide quarantine...

Officials warn of 'hardest' week ahead as New York sees over 4,000 deaths

(Update 1 adds details throughout, changes headline and lede)

Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: April 5

(Update: Adds information from the US, the UK, France, Italy, Haiti and Latin America)

Colombian fashion designer producing facemasks for coronavirus crisis

By Ruth E. Hernandez Beltran

Democratic National Convention postponed until August due to coronavirus

Washington, Apr 2 (efe-epa).- The Democratic Party decided on Thursday to postpone by more than a month its national convention - at which it will formally...

Coronavirus pandemic pummeling Mexican tourism sector

By Pedro Pablo Cortes and Lourdes Cruz

Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: April 2

Miami Desk, Apr 2 (efe-epa).- Here is a roundup of stories from around the world related to the coronavirus pandemic:

Pain in Guayaquil compounding amid impossibility of burying coronavirus dead

Quito, Apr 1 (efe-epa).- The rapid spread of the coronavirus in Ecuador's Guayas province, the capital of which is Guayaquil, one of the world's cities...

US embargo preventing sending of masks, COVID-19 test kits to Cuba

Havana, Apr 1 (efe-epa).- Havana on Wednesday complained that the US embargo on Cuba has prevented the shipment by Chinese electronics giant Alibaba of...

In the US, intentional coughing can be considered a terrorist threat

By Helen Cook

Daily COVID-19 pandemic roundup: April 1

(Adds information from the US and throughout Latin America)

Brazil's biggest research center builds hospital for COVID-19

Rio de Janeiro, Mar 31 (efe-epa).- The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), the biggest health research center in Brazil and Latin America, has begun...

UN calls for multilateral Covid-19 response totaling 10 pct. of world GDP

United Nations, Mar 31 (efe-epa).- United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday issued a worldwide call to deal with the socio-economic...