Tufton highlights the need to boost testing capacity for variant COVID strains

3 years ago

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Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, has informed that the country is boosting its capacity to test for variant strains of COVID-19 locally.

Addressing the House of Representatives on April 21, Dr Tufton acknowledged the support of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Government of the United States in financing equipment for the National Public Health Laboratory to do the testing.

He said additional technical support is being provided in the capacity development of local staff in conducting genomic testing and the analysis of results for decision-making.

“We are benefiting to the tune of some US$350,000.00 and we expect to do work in this area over the [coming] months. This will allow us the capacity to do our own testing, particularly around variant strains,” he noted.

Dr Tufton informed that the Ministry continues to send samples to CARPHA to complete assessments, noting, however, that the results can be lengthy.

“We are, therefore, required to again look to build capacity within the country to complete genomic testing, so that we can screen for variants of the virus within the population,” he said.

The Minister argued that Jamaica has sought to ensure the protection of the population through testing for the different strains within the population.

“Based on the information provided, we have been notified of the presence of the UK strain, which has resulted in our implementation of the travel restrictions on the United Kingdom,” he said, pointing out that at this time there is no evidence that this strain has become the most dominant strain in the population.