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The Ministry of Health and Wellness, in collaboration with the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC), has contacted 52 laboratories to participate in the inter-lab comparison by the National Public Health Lab, to expand COVID-19 testing capacity.

“Of that number, 14 have been non-responsive, two were previously approved with another three recently approved, and by Friday, December 4, 2021, we are hoping to have another seven labs complete the inter-lab comparison with a view to being approved,” Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said.

The Minister was delivering a statement to the House of Representatives on November 30.

He said that within another 10 days, if there is timely return of samples and the resultant success in the inter-lab comparison, “we could have 18 testing sites fully operational”.

“We encourage the testing sites that are engaged to submit the test panel results as soon as possible. At the same time, the Ministry is encouraging the use of testing kits approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO). These test kits are also subject to review and approval by the Ministry,” Dr. Tufton said.

Meanwhile, the Minister said the Government is in support of expanding the number of test kits available on the market.

He urged private entities to apply to the standards and regulations division of the Ministry for approval to import from the pool of 30 WHO/FDA-approved test kits that are now available.

“Once those test kits meet the standards of the FDA, including self-administered kits, we will quickly process and validate and allow permission and permits to import,” the Minister added.

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