Uruguay’s swift and efficient testing was crucial in its successful COVID-19 measures

Uruguay’s smaller overall population and low population density have allowed the country to keep its positive COVID-19 test rate under 2% since June, despite a recent increase in new daily cases over the past month, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Ana Fernandez Menjivar, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData, comments: “Two of the most important factors were ‘swift’ and ‘efficient’ testing. Other Latin American countries should look to Uruguay’s management of the pandemic so they can replicate these results and reopen their economies.”

Uruguay initiated measures to reduce super-spreader events and reduced travel to high-risk areas that, combined with Uruguay’s smaller population, meant the increase in new daily cases was much slower than that observed in Brazil and Argentina.

Menjivar continues: “Uruguay’s investment in research to develop a nationally manufactured testing kit allowed the country to begin testing its population without delay and increased its diagnostic capabilities. The increase in test rates correlated to a decrease in the positive test rate from approximately 8% in early April to below 2% by 1 June. This allowed for faster case identification and isolation, leading to a break in the chain of transmission.”

Uruguay shifted to matrix pooling once positive test rates were at approximately 1%. This allowed many samples to be tested at once, reducing the number of tests and reagents needed. The current low-positive test rate indicates that there is little community transmission of the virus and that current levels of testing should be maintained.

Menjivar concludes: “Based on Uruguay’s initial response to the virus, ongoing pool testing, efficient contact tracing, and limiting exposure from travel or crowded public spaces will continue to be feasible measures that can keep COVID-19 under control.”

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