Two of our Senior Molecular Lab Technicians are currently down with COVID-19. The third is in Malaita to set up the testing lab at Kilu’ufi hospital.

This was revealed by the Minister of Health and Medical services Dr Culwick Togamana during his daily COVID-19 update this afternoon.

He says as a result tests will be delayed as the lab is currently operating under a skeleton staff and is increasingly relying on rapid antigen tests.

Despite the increase in rapid antigen tests, it is understood all those who have a lab-confirmed infection are counted as confirmed cases.

No country knows the total number of people infected with COVID-19. All we know is the infection status of those who have been tested.

This means that the counts of confirmed cases depend on how much a country actually tests. Without testing there is no data.

That is why the role of our testing labs is critical as they give us a clearer picture of whether the pandemic is accelerating, staying the same, or reducing.

The actual number of cases is likely to be much higher than the number of confirmed cases – which would worsen if there is limited testing at the labs.

104 new cases have been reported by the Health Minister, with 5 deaths also recorded. He says further updates will be given once more information comes to hand.

Current cumulative cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak is 755.