January 23, 2021

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At least three positives to COVID-19 in the Forensic Sciences Bureau

The commissioner of the Bureau of Forensic Sciences (NCF), María Conte Miller confirmed this afternoon that three employees of the agency are in quarantine after showing positive results in molecular tests for COVID-19 yesterday.

The secretary of the Department of Public Security (DSP), Pedro Janer had said in written statements that four NCF employees were positive for the coronavirus, but Conte Miller clarified that there were three.

"Immediately the employees were quarantined and the building was closed as a precautionary measure, "said the pathologist in a telephone interview with Primera Hora. However, it indicated that the delivery and collection of corpses was not stopped and added that the building, already decontaminated, reopens tomorrow, Friday morning during regular hours.

The pathologist assured that it was not a labor contamination and explained that the employees contracted the virus “in particular situations”, outside the agency.

“Today I was informed that four NCF employees have tested positive for COVID-19 molecular tests. Immediately, I gave instructions for the building to be closed for 24 hours while a decontamination process is completed and the staff is subjected to the corresponding tests, ”said Janer in a statement requested from the agency's press officer, Kiara Hernández.

Janer argued that according to the information provided to them, the employees work in different areas of the NCF. He said that forensic investigators, as well as personnel assigned to other areas, are remotely activated to attend to any situation that requires their attention and that he instructed Conte Miller to take the corresponding precautionary measures.

The commissioner said for her part , that the cases were detected because the NCF has its own laboratory for COVID and the staff is subjected to periodic tests. We have already had three rounds and thanks to those periodic checks on all the personnel we have been able to detect those three positives that were asymptomatic. They did not show any symptoms. Not at all, "said Conte Miller.

" We have done three rounds of tests and these are the only positives we have had, "he said, adding that none of the positives are from the team of pathologists. "No one in the autopsy room is contaminated," he explained. “Yes, we see cases of COVID autopsies, but thank God all the personnel who have worked on these cases have tested negative. When we make a positive case we go into quarantine and five days later we do the test and we have all been able to return ", he indicated.

" I was in quarantine until yesterday and the test was negative, as were all the assistants who gave me. they accompanied the autopsy, "explained the doctor, who understands that occupational contamination in the NCF" is unlikely because it is a staff who as part of their work is used to wearing masks, gloves and pathogenic materials. “We are always protected because we receive samples that may be contaminated.”

He said that the ICF no longer has wagons to store corpses due to the autopsy clogging that took place in the agency in the past years. "COVID is a great tragedy, but this has not affected us because generally the person dies in the hospital and the hospital is the one that certifies," he said.

The pathologist indicated that there are people of both sexes in those infected and said that it should be "a representative sample of what is happening abroad," referring to the increase in cases of the virus in Puerto Rico.

He favored the government to return to more restrictive measures to control the pandemic, such as "returning to work remote if possible. ”

“ Perhaps a return to a partial closure should be considered, interspersing reduced face-to-face hours and with more emphasis on telework. Health comes first, "said Conte Miller.

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