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BREAKING NEWS: Saint Lucia to have ‘testing capacity for COVID-19 next week’

By Department of Health and Wellness

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(PRESS RELEASE) — Ezra Long Laboratory of the Victoria hospital and OKEU hospital will have the testing capacity for COVID-19 in Saint Lucia as of next week.

Efforts at ensuring accurate and reliable results of COVID-19 testing in Saint Lucia was undertaken as the Ezra Long Lab held a training session for the proper management and use of the lab equipment.

Quality Manager of the Ezra Long Lab, Simonia Theobalds, says she is very pleased with the training given that COVID-19 testing is done via PCR method which is fairly new to the staff of the lab.

“That method is a new method for us in the lab, in terms of that it is partially a manual method and partially automated. We have never done that type of PCR testing at the Ezra Long Laboratory. So, we are training a group of persons who will be able to test for the COVID-19 virus using this PCR method in the next few days. We are trying to build capacity so that in the event they are likely, or maybe likely I am not sure, God forbid that the virus escalates, we are able to provide round-the-clock testing so that persons do not have to wait days, rather they would only have to wait hours for the results.”

Theobalds spoke on the process of undertaking testing for COVID-19 using the lab equipment.

“That test is done by a series of steps, so you have the first step called the extraction step that can be manual or automated. We are currently doing a manual method because we have ordered the machine that can do the automated extraction, but due to the high demand because of COVID-19, our analyzer has not been shipped yet, the part has not been shipped yet. So, we are doing the manual extraction and that is a bit timely and labour intensive and you have to be precise, you can not be distracted, you have to be focused because it involves small quantities of liquid and precise pipetting.”

The quality manager also expressed gratitude to the Forensic Science Lab for the support in ensuring that the staff of the Ezra Long Lab receives the necessary training to undertake COVID-19 testing.

As of Monday, March 23, COVID-19 testing will be available in-country for all testing of suspect cases that are presented to our health facilities.


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