In the cohort of returning Cook Islanders released yesterday, eight text tubes leaked when they were sent to New Zealand for authoritative tests. So instead they were retested in Rarotonga using the in-country GeneXpert test – a quicker but less reliable technology.
There were similar problems in the first cohort, who were released from Edgewater quarantine resort last week.
Te Marae Ora spokesperson Jaewynn McKay confirmed all tests had come back negative from New Zealand, except those where the tubes had leaked.
The health ministry had ask the New Zealand laboratory to explain the failing.
McKay said: “We do not believe the tests were tampered with. We have communicated with New Zealand laboratory and we think it might be the length of the swab stick pushing back on the lid.
“The swab sticks have now been shortened and we hope with the next batch, this does not occur.
“Individuals who had tests that leaked were tested using the in-country GeneXpert test. All tests have come back negative.”
According to Health Policy Watch, US Food & Drug Administration authorised of a rapid Covid-19 test on the GeneXpert platform, one of the most widely-used tuberculosis diagnostic tools in the world.
The GeneXpert technology produced by the California-based firm Cepheid, can process nose swab samples in a mere 45 minutes, and perform up to 96 tests in 24 hours.
Warren Kocmond, the president of Cepheid, said GeneXpert tests were a “point-of-care” option that allows hospitals and clinics to perform diagnostic tests in-house, rather than sending them to outside labs.
Additionally, the machine’s “automated systems do not require users to have specialty training to perform testing — they are capable of running 24/7,” he said.
GeneXpert tests are aimed for low- and middle-income countries.