The Ministry of Health and Wellness is distributing 30,000 antigen test kits and reader machines to six private laboratories, to increase national testing capacity for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Beginning January 18, the SD Biosensor test kits will support the laboratories testing capacity, pending the arrival of these laboratories’ supplies within two weeks.
The laboratories are Microlabs Limited, Biomedical Caledonia Medical Laboratory Limited, MDLink Limited, Winchester Surgical and Medical Institute, Technological Solutions Limited and Baywest Wellness Hospital.
In his address at the handover ceremony, at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices, on Thursday (January 14), Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said the equipment, which is from the Ministry’s reserve, will increase access to testing sites as part of the country’s COVID-19 response.
“This is another example of public-private partnership around testing as part of our COVID response as a country. This is another case of us working together as a team and as a country in order to protect our population – whether our locals or those that visit with us,” he said.
Noting that the move comes in the wake of the recent adjustments to travel advisories for the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom, Minister Tufton said increasing the testing capacity of these laboratories should assist in minimising further disruption in the travel industry, particularly with several of Jamaica’s largest tourism markets.
“They are, over the next two weeks, going to acquire their own material and machinery, so we are making this donation to mobilise them immediately, and we hope this will minimise the disruptions caused by the restrictions that are in place. It is a good day for public-private partnerships,” the Minister said.
Additionally, the Ministry, in partnership with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), is working with four other private entities to provide PCR testing.
Minister Tufton said it is anticipated that these facilities will be able to offer this test within another two to four weeks.