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Local ZIKV-testing lab kicks off operations today

Published:Monday | March 7, 2016 | 11:38 AM

Jamaica will start carrying out its own testing for the Zika virus (ZIKV) starting today. 

Acting chief medical officer in the health ministry, Dr Winston De La Haye,  says an internationally-accredited laboratory at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) is to be opened today. 

Currently, the only internationally-approved lab in CARICOM 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, Dr De La Haye,  says the lab at the UHWI will reduce the time it takes to get back results to about two to three days. 

The government spent about 10 million dollars 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.