Jamaicans to be trained by PAHO to test for coronavirus

A team from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will arrive in the island on Wednesday (February 12), to train local staff on how to test for the coronavirus.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (centre), listens to Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Representative to Jamaica, Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi (left), at a press conference at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in New Kingston, on February 10. At right is Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline A. Bisasor-McKenzie.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline A. Bisasor-McKenzie, made the announcement at a press conference at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in New Kingston, on February 10, where an update on the disease was provided.

“In Jamaica, we are developing our own capacity to test. A PAHO team will be coming to train our laboratory staff to do testing. By the following week, we expect that we will have the capacity to test,” Dr Bisasor-McKenzie said.  

Coronavirus testing kits (Photo: Fox News)

“This is very fortunate for us because it’s not every country [that] is going to have that capacity, but because we have a National Influenza Centre that is located at the University of the West Indies, we are fortunate to be able to be given this opportunity to be able to do our own testing. In the interim, we have testing that is being done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA),” she added.

“In Jamaica, we are developing our own capacity to test. A PAHO team will be coming to train our laboratory staff to do testing.”

— Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline A. Bisasor-McKenzie

Dr Bisasor-McKenzie pointed out that CARPHA had its own training, and since last week is now able to test, and the sample taken from the person who recently returned to the island from China and was isolated on Monday (February 10) can be sent immediately to CARPHA.

Meanwhile, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Representative to Jamaica, Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, commended the Ministry of Health and Wellness for its preparedness and quarantine of persons returning to the island from China.

“I would like to commend the Ministry of Health and Wellness for the early and effective action they have taken,” Dr Theodore-Gandi said.