KINGSTON, Jamaica April 17, 2020 — Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, says instructions have been given to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to rapidly expand testing for COVID-19.
“This is why they have rolled out the [mobile units]. They are going to be increasing the number of tests done,” Holness said, in a statement to the House of Representatives, on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister noted that during the early phase of the epidemic, tests were conducted on the cases that were presented, and persons who came into contact with those individuals.
He noted, however, that as the country moves into a new phase of the outbreak, there will be the need to increase testing.
“We are now entering into a different phase, where we are likely to be declared now, as having community spread. Now, in that phase, you definitely need to be testing widely,” Holness said.
“You need to find out, whether or not, people have had it and have developed the antibodies; you need to figure out, where the clusters are that you didn’t pick up, and that helps in the public health approach,” he added.
Under the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ testing protocols, specimens are collected and tested for COVID-19 for all suspected cases (as per the case definition), all symptomatic contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, all asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases; all severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) cases from all hospitals, all admitted lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI)/pneumonia cases from all hospitals, all influenza-like illness cases, all healthcare workers who have been assessed to be at risk from exposure to COVID-19 cases, and all symptomatic healthcare workers irrespective of contact history.
The Prime Minister told the House that the methodology for testing, deployed by the Ministry, accurately captures and reflects the true data, as it relates to persons, who have the COVID-19 disease.
“We have no challenge to the validity of that data,” he noted.