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Local testing for ZIKV by March, says health ministry

Published:Monday | February 29, 2016 | 2:14 AM
The entrance to the Tony Thwaites Wing at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

The health ministry says local testing for the Zika virus (ZIKV) should begin in Jamaica by March 7.

Currently, the only internationally approved lab for the testing of the mosquito-borne virus is at the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

After samples are submitted, it takes at least seven days before the test results are returned to Jamaica.

However, acting chief medical officer in the health ministry, Dr Winston De La Haye,  says a project is underway to upgrade a lab at the University Hospital of the West Indies for local testing.

He says when that lab comes into operation, it could take about two to three days to get test results. 

 

Acting chief medical officer in the health ministry, Dr Winston De La Haye

The government is spending $10 million to upgrade the lab. 

The World Health Organisation has declared the Zika virus, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a global public health emergency. 

The virus has been confirmed in over 20 countries of the Americas.

So far, Jamaica has confirmed one case.