Jamaica expands sampling and testing for COVID-19

Dr Christopher Tuton Speaking in Parliament Wednesday (April 15).

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton says Jamaica is expanding sampling and testing for COVID-19.

He informed that as part of those expanded testing efforts, the ministry will, beginning this Friday (April 17), commence mobile testing for COVID-19 in two health regions – Southeast Regional Health Authority (SERHA) and the Northeast Regional Health Authority (NERHA).

“We retrofitted five mobile units and four were deployed to the respective regions, and this is in aid of expanding the sampling, collection and testing for COVID-19,” Tufton said.

“One unit is based in Clarendon, and I actually visited the Corn Piece quarantined community where they were collecting samples a few days ago. That was the first one to be deployed,” he added.

The minister—who was making a statement in the House of Representatives on Wednesday—said that by Friday a second facility will be added to do COVID-19 testing. The National Public Health Laboratory will be able to do 350 samples per eight-hour shift. 

Meanwhile, the ministry has moved proactively to procure medical equipment and supplies needed in the Public Health System. Tufton said to date, orders valuing more than $1 billion have been made. Major items delivered include 35 ventilators, six intensive care unit (ICU) beds, 50 physiological monitors and more than 2.2 million personal protective equipment (PPE) items.