Jamaica can now test for Coronavirus

February 18, 2020
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (left), tries out a thermal cycler while on a tour of the National Influenza Centre (NIC) at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) on Monday (February 17). Looking on (from second left) are Medical Chief of Staff and Consultant Neurosurgeon at the UHWI, Dr. Carl Bruce; Director of the NIC, Professor Monica Smikle; and acting head of the National Public Health Laboratory, Dr. Michelle Hamilton.

Jamaica is now able to test for the coronavirus.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, made the disclosure on Monday, February 17, during a tour of the National Influenza Centre (NIC), based at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

The tests will be carried out at the NIC in collaboration with the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL).

Tufton hailed the development of local capacity to test for the infection as “another positive” for the country’s public health system.

“It is very good because we don’t have to send samples elsewhere, which would take a few days. We can now do the test…and decide how long we isolate people and if the isolation has to be elevated to the highest possible level,” he said.

Dr. Tufton assured that the Government is making every effort to build the capacity of the health system to protect the public, should the virus enter the island.

Meanwhile, the Ministry is advising the public to observe the standard infection prevention and control precautions, especially as it relates to viral respiratory illnesses. These include frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and avoiding contact with persons who display symptoms.

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