Cornwall Regional Hospital begins COVID-19 antigen testing

Cornwall Regional Hospital begins COVID-19 antigen testing

Monday, November 30, 2020

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ST JAMES, Jamaica — The Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James has begun antigen testing for the coronavirus (COVID-19) under a one-month pilot project, which commenced last week.

Dr Delroy Fray, clinical coordinator at the hospital, told OBSERVER ONLINE that only people with symptoms of the virus are being tested and the results from the antigen tests are then compared to that of a PCR or molecular test.

An antigen test is less expensive and can produce results in 30 minutes when compared to a PCR test, which can take up to a few days.

Both methods of testing, which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), utilise a long nasal swab, which is inserted into the back of the nose to collect fluid samples for testing.

"You do the antigen test and collaborate it with the PCR to see how accurate it is. So, we only test people with symptoms and we collaborate it that way," explained Dr Fray.

Last week Wednesday, it was announced that Cornwall Regional Hospital is one of nine public health facilities across the island that will be participating in a month-long pilot project.

The Type A facility in St James is the only facility in western Jamaica that is offering antigen testing.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said the test will be free of charge to the public.

"Antigen test is free. It is paid for by the taxpayers of Jamaica. So, you don't pay at the point of access. Anything in the public health system, you don't have to pay for. As you know, we have a free healthcare policy and that applies also to the COVID response," explained the health minister.

Dr Tufton has also assured the public that the Cornwall Regional Hospital, which is currently undergoing restoration work, is capable of offering COVID-19 antigen testing.

"There's no issue as to whether or not Cornwall Regional can offer antigen testing. The facilities are there, the doctors are there and we have made adequate provisions to deal with that. So, I'm not worried about that," Tufton told reporters in St James recently.

Anthony Lewis

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