Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Ja gets COVID-19 test kits, equipment valued at US$2M from America

Published:Thursday | July 16, 2020 | 8:12 PM
Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton (second left), along with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith (second right), and United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Donald Tapia, at the National Public Health Laboratory on Thursday, July 16, 2020 for the handing over of medical equipment and supplies. Also present is director of the lab, Dr Michelle Hamilton - Kenyon Hemans photo

Jamaica’s health ministry has received two high-tech machines and 2,000 test kits that are expected to help clear the backlog of approximately 10,000 COVID-19 samples.

The donation of the two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines and kits, valued at over US$2 million, was made by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

US Ambassador to Jamaica, Donald Tapia, formally handed over the items to the National Public Health Laboratory, Jamaica’s major public health testing site, at a ceremony earlier today.

Despite the commissioning of a COBAS 6800 machine in April that can process up to 1,000 samples per day, complaints have persisted about the slow turnaround in COVID-19 test results.

In acknowledging the backlog, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton argued that many countries have been affected by the global crunch on testing equipment.

“Jamaicans have complained about testing and getting results in a relatively short period of time. It’s not unique to Jamaica. As you know, there is more testing taking place globally, and it has resulted in a number of issues,” he said.

The new PCR machines will be stationed at the National Public Health Laboratory and the National Influenza Centre at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

Director of the National Public Health Laboratory, Dr Michelle Hamilton, said that Jamaica’s healthcare system would be able to respond more quickly if there is another upsurge in coronavirus cases.

The machines will also be beneficial beyond COVID-19, as they will be used to test for dengue as well as other emerging infections.

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