Equipment coming to test for variants of COVID-19 virus
A health worker collects a swab sample from the Bahrain's Everest expedition team member to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus before the teams departure to climb Mount Everest, in Kathmandu on March 19, 2021. (PHOTO: AFP)

THE Government will be acquiring a genome sequencer that will be used to test samples to determine variants of viruses in Jamaica.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund will finance acquisition of the equipment, with the requisite accessories and reagents.

He made the announcement during his 2021/22 budget debate presentation in the House of Representatives on Thursday, under the theme 'Recovery: Faster, Stronger, Better'.

Holness said the equipment is being acquired in light of the extended time taken for Jamaica to receive the results of tests on samples sent to a regional facility earlier this year to determine whether the UK variant of the coronavirus was present in the island.

He noted that virus is constantly changing, leading to the emergence of new variants that may have different characteristics.

Holness indicated that since late 2020, multiple variants of SARS-Cov-2 have been detected, adding that “some may be easier to transmit and cause more severe diseases”.

Consequently, he emphasised that “Jamaica must have the instant capability to determine the variants of viruses present in our population as part of our routine public health surveillance”.

The prime minister said that last year the CHASE Fund financed acquisition of high-capacity testing equipment and supplies for the National Influenza Centre.

“This equipment significantly enhanced the country's capacity to test COVID-19 [and other viral] samples more quickly and accurately,” Holness pointed out.


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at


  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Which long-term investment option is more attractive to you at the moment?