Guatemala: Most Workers at National Lab Have COVID-19

Jun 24, 2020
3:56 PM

A health worker in protective gear to protect himself from COVID-19 closes the principal door of the coronavirus unit at San Juan de Dios Hospital in Guatemala City, Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei said Wednesday that most of the 240 workers in the country’s National Laboratory have tested positive for COVID-19.

The president told the government’s TGW Radio that despite the infections, the lab continues processing COVID-19 tests.

Giammattei characterized it as a “crisis,” but held up the example of a woman working at the lab who has the virus and feels bad but continues processing samples.

During the first months of the epidemic in Guatemala, all of the nation’s COVID-19 testing was centralized at the lab. But as the number of cases has grown, the government has allowed public hospitals to test samples as well.

Citizens have complained recently of waiting more than a week for test results.

The mass infection at the National Laboratory follows Giammattei’s announcement that 158 people at the seat of his government have tested positive for the virus. Most of the infected work for the Secretary of Administrative Affairs and Security, which is charged with protecting the president and his family.

Guatemala has reported more than 14,000 confirmed infections and nearly 600 deaths.