Thursday 9 July, 2020

Jamaica can now test for coronavirus

Jamaica now has the capacity to test for the deadly coronavirus after the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) trained nine healthcare workers last week.

The National Influenza Centre at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) is the only facility on the island where the test can be conducted.

Speaking during a tour of the facility on Monday morning, PAHO and World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, said Jamaica has the advantage of receiving re-agents needed for coronavirus testing because of the ability to test for influenza.

“Since last year, the centre has already been re-evaluated by WHO as a collaborating centre, and it has passed all the proficiency testing, etcetera, so we have every confidence that the National Influenza Centre is more than capable,” said Theodore-Gandi.

Acting Director of the National Laboratory Services, Dr Michelle Hamilton, expressed confidence about the testing process of the National Influenza Centre.

“If you test a person who has symptoms and they come up negative, the virus is not detected, (but) it is highly likely that they have something else. The fact that you may have tested a person two or three times and they are negative, does not mean the test has failed. The test is very accurate, it’s very sensitive,” said Hamilton.

Director of the National Influenza Centre, Professor Monica Smikle, added: “Jamaica is at the cutting edge. This is what is being rolled out across the world and within two weeks of the international declaration, here we are.”

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