The Ministry of Health has revealed that Saint Lucia like other islands is limited to sending only five samples to be tested for the Zika virus every week, by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
Surveillance Officer at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Michelle Francois, said that while she would like if more samples could be sent for testing, she noted that other countries are sending samples to CARPHA as well.
“We do not have capacity to test in Saint Lucia. So samples have to be sent out to CARPHA and there are only a limited number of samples that are able to send out on a weekly basis,” she explained.
Dr. Francois said the ministry is looking at individuals with signs and symptoms of the virus to determine if they should be sent out.
“There is also a given time period we have to send out these samples, that is three days onset of signs and symptoms. So an individual arriving from Grenada or Dominica, chances are they may have passed that time as well or may have arrived systematic,” she asserted.
Dr. Francois noted that in cases where there is high suspicion, the ministry would speak with CARPHA to see if they can accommodate more than five tests per week.
“In the case where we now have diagnosed cases, not every single case will need to be tested. We now know that it is on island and we will go by association, as well as signs and symptoms,” she added.
CARPHA has warned against rapid testing and will start testing urine for the Zika virus.
St. Lucia has recorded two cases of the mosquito-borne virus, which was confirmed by CARPHA on Wednesday.
A 25-year-old male and a 28-year-old female, both from Castries, have so far been infected.