JIS News

Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says local capacity to test for variant strains of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is to be established.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we were in discussions with them around getting the gene sequence to identify variant strains in the population. I am told that has been approved, so we are now making arrangements to establish our own testing capacity here for variant strains,” he said.

Dr. Tufton made the disclosure during the Ministry’s virtual COVID Conversations press briefing on May 13.

He said capacity development of local staff in conducting genomic testing is to be done to facilitate testing for variant strains in the population.

“In the weeks and months to come, we should be engaging in the training and preparations to be able to test,” he said, noting that, presently, the Ministry continues to send samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to test for variant strains of the virus.

This, he noted, is important, as the last two batches of samples sent for testing indicate that the United Kingdom variant “is becoming more of a dominant variant here in Jamaica”.

Reiterating the possibility of a third wave, he again urged Jamaicans to remain vigilant and to continue to follow the established safety protocols of social distancing, sanitising and wearing a mask.

“We have spoken about a third wave and the impact or effect a third wave would have on the population, because it would be starting from a higher base and would, therefore, have a significant impact on both individuals and our institutions’ capacity to respond,” he noted.

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