Ministry of Health Does Not Know How Many Coronavirus Tests Have Been Completed in Brazil

Government says only that it distributed about 560 thousand exams; Mass testing as in South Korea helps to isolate infected and develop public policies

São Paulo

South Korea became an example in the fight against the novel coronavirus. The Asian country of 51 million inhabitants has already carried out more than 400 thousand tests. People who receive a positive result are isolated and treated, and their closest contacts are screened for the exam.

In this way, a tracking network is created, and the spread of the virus is blocked at the sources of contagion.

Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta (Foto: Pedro Ladeira/Folhapress, PODER) - Folhapress

In Brazil, the Ministry of Health says it does not know how many tests have been completed. The ministry told Folha that it distributed 54,000 molecular biology tests (known as PCR), which take longer to have a more accurate result, and 500,000 rapid tests, which respond within 20 minutes but have limitations.

Testing a large portion of the population enables the government to isolate infected people and let the healthy population circulate, but also to have more realistic figures on the infection rate in a city, state, or country and to develop health policies based on that data. In Brazil, as only people in serious conditions take the tests, there is underreporting.

Here, the strategy to get close to the number of infected is a study that will do 100,000 random tests. Every two weeks, just over 33,000 people will be chosen to be interviewed and tested in all regions. The process will be repeated in three stages.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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