The Ministry of Health and Wellness anticipates that training in the use of the genome sequencing machine for the testing of coronavirus (COVID-19) variants will begin shortly.
Speaking at a recent press conference, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, said that training was expected to begin on January 10 but has been pushed back.
“We are hopeful that it will not be a delay of more than a week,” she said, noting that the training process will involve the testing of samples.
Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said that while the results of some samples Jamaica had sent overseas for testing remain outstanding, Omicron has not been confirmed from the results of tests received to date.
“However, we [were] alerted by the United Kingdom (UK) of persons who travelled to Jamaica, and on return to the UK were retested and found to be positive with Omicron. So, we do know that there are persons who have passed through the country with [the] Omicron [variant],” she said.
Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie noted, further, that based on the pattern of spread and the “very steep rise in the number of cases, Omicron is more than likely in-country and representing, I would say, a good portion of those cases that we’re seeing”.
“However, I want to remind the public that we probably still have a considerable amount of Delta viruses, still in the country. So, we probably have different variants that are circulating. Remember that even though the Omicron virus has shown to [cause] less severe illness, our history shows that we have significant severity of illness in the country with the Delta [variant],” she pointed out.
She is, therefore, advising all Jamaicans to get vaccinated, by visiting the nearest health centre or one of the private sites listed on the Ministry’s website.