Jamaica now equipped to identify international COVID-19 variantsFriday, June 04, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaica can now identify international variants of concern in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
This follows a boost in the form of 6000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to identify the variants, which were procured by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/ World Health Organization (WHO) as it ramps up support in the region to identify, isolate and understand the circulation of new strains of the virus.
Polymerase chain reaction testing is a cornerstone in the identification of COVID-19 in patients. The introduction of PCR tests for VoC will allow detection of known international variants circulating in other countries, enabling local authorities to make informed decisions to protect the public.
“Jamaica is among the first countries in the Caribbean to receive the PCR test for VoC. While much has been done to support the vaccination and the testing of citizens, PCR tests for VoC will serve as needle-movers in the assessment of international strains of the virus and will support the local response to COVID-19,” said Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, PAHO/WHO Representative in Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Jamaica, up to June 3, the country has recorded 48,821 confirmed cases and 960 deaths. The Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization has been critical in supporting countries across the region in their emergency response, including Jamaica.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, noted the impact of the medical testing supplies on the country's COVID-19 testing strategy.
“These PCR tests for VoC mean that we will no longer need to send all positive tests for identification abroad but can be more efficient by only sending the positive tests for variants of concern. The benefits of reduced cost and lead-time for the assessment of VoC will strengthen our national response,” the minister said.
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