Puerto Rico extends COVID-19 measures amid testing errors

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s government has extended measures to fight COVID-19 for two more weeks, meaning that restaurants, gyms and theaters across the U.S. territory will keep operating at limited capacity.

In addition, a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will remain in place until Oct. 16, and face masks continue to be mandatory, according to an executive order that the interim governor signed late Thursday. The extension was not publicly announced, and no press conference with health experts was held as has been customary since the pandemic began. Gov. Wanda Vázquez is on an official trip in the U.S. mainland until next week.

The extension also means bars and clubs will stay closed, and public school classes will continue to be held online.

Health experts had recommended the extension following recent testing problems at Quest Diagnostics, one of the biggest laboratories on the island. Officials are reviewing 6,000 tests done last month after discovering that some of them yielded inaccurate results.

“We cannot make recommendations to open or close until we’ve validated the data,” Dr. Víctor Ramos, president of the Association of Surgeons, said in a phone interview.

If the tests turn out to be all positive, it’s an indication Puerto Rico is still struggling with the pandemic, Ramos said. If they turn out to be all negative, it would mean the situation is greatly improving, he added.

A laboratory spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.

The island of 3.2 million people has reported more than 24,000 confirmed cases and more than 24,800 probable ones, with at least 665 deaths.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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