(JAMAICA STAR) – Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, on Tuesday announced that a new high-tech Cobas machine has been commissioned, thereby boosting the country’s capacity to test for the coronavirus.
Dr. Tufton said that the machine will allow for the testing ofabout 384 samples during each eight-hour shift at the lab.
“We can go two shifts or more, so depending on the demand, you could do about 1,000 tests on a particular day. So that’s a very welcome addition to what we already have in place,” he pointed out.
The Minister noted that while the vast majority of the COVID-19 tests are being done at the National Influenza Centre at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) the new machine “is going to give us more capacity” as the country moves into the community spread stage of the virus.
“We are in a situation where we can do more significant testing, and that’s a very positive development,” he emphasised.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, in her remarks noted that there has been an increase in collection of samples within the last two weeks.
“We have been using mobile teams that are helping health departments with sampling. Within the last week, we have been under pressure with the amount of samples coming out of the workplace cluster (Alorica) that we have in St Catherine,” she said.
She noted, as well, that the Ministry has been receiving samples from patients at health centres and hospitals “with any kind of respiratory illness”.
“This (Cobas machine) will help to clear all those cases and get results quickly. In some of the [health] regions, there has been delay in getting test results, but with this we hope to complete these results in another day or two,” Dr. Bisasor McKenzie said.
To date, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has reported that 1,936 samples have been tested for COVID-19, of which 233 are positive cases.