TCI News

Natl Public Lab gets another upgrade; 400 tests can be run a day

#TurksandCaicosIslands – January 28, 2021 – Very soon, the National Public Health Laboratory will be able to run ‘gold standard’ PCR tests at a rate of 400 per day, said the Minister of Health during a press conference on Tuesday.

“The automation has arrived for the laboratory testing.  The automation extraction kits that will increase the laboratory capacity is120 samples per day and this automation will increase it to 400 samples per day,” said Edwin Astwood, Minister of Health.

In the most recent situational report issued by the Turks and Caicos Islands Ministry of Health, the lab completed 108 tests in a single day and overall testing at the lab has soared past 13,000 amidst the pandemic.

Earlier in the year, it was announced that the equipment was coming and adds to the upgrades triggered by the Coronavirus Pandemic at the government’s laboratory.

There have been 515 new coronavirus cases recorded in Turks and Caicos in just over a month; and with the spread came the announcement of a postponement of community testing for the virus.

“It is also important to note that the scale and the surge of contact tracing impacted the Ministry’s ability to conduct our community testing due to the high volumes of swabs being taken from persons,” explained the Health Minister.

Currently testing at the lab is erratic with lows in the 20s and a recent high of over 200 tests in a 24 hour period.  The Minister explained the ebbs and flows is linked to a shortage of manpower.

“It does not mean that every day, we should expect to see 400 samples run.  It depends on the number of swabs collected and the availability of the technologists.”

He added, “Discussions are well underway to increase swabbing through the addition of more staff.”

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