Fri | May 29, 2020

Jamaica boosting COVID-19 testing capacity

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2020 | 12:00 AM
Bisasor McKenzie: While the Health Ministry does not expect a shortage of test kits in the medium term, it will expand capacity as it becomes necessary.

Judana Murphy, Gleaner Writer

Come tomorrow, technicians will begin installing a machine at the National Public Health Laboratory to test for the coronavirus (COVID-19) 

This will significantly increase Jamaica's capacity to test samples in another two to three weeks, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.

Currently, testing is only being conducted at the National Influenza Centre where 3,000 tests are available, 250 of which have been used.

On Saturday night, the Health Ministry reported that Jamaica has now confirmed 32 cases of COVID-19 with one death.

Meanwhile, Bisasor McKenzie said 10,000 tests have been ordered for COVID testing at the National Public Health Laboratory.

During a digital press conference Friday, she said, too, that Jamaica is being supported by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) in expanding its testing capacity.

Bisasor McKenzie said, in the coming weeks, the organisation will provide 6,000 tests.

The World Health Organisation has recommended increased testing as a measure of containing the virus.

According to the chief medical officer, while the ministry does not expect a shortage of test kits in the medium term, it will expand capacity as it becomes necessary.

In the meantime, all hospital patients and health care workers with severe acute respiratory infections are now being tested for COVID-19.

A sample of patients who visited health centres or accident and emergency departments will also be tested.

Up to Friday, 61 of these people had been tested and 60 returned negative results with the finding of one person still outstanding.

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