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PCR testing still not available locally

PCR testing still not available locally
Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache, The Chief Medical Officer

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The commencement of in-country PCR testing for COVID-19 may be delayed for a little while longer.

After several months of delay, St Vincent and the Grenadines received its first PCR machine on May 15.

In country testing however has yet to begin, two weeks later.

“… We are currently setting it up. The set up is not just you open the box and you use it,” chief medical officer Dr Simone Keizer-Beache said during VC3’s Round Table Talk programme on Wednesday evening.

She explained that the set up for testing involves a series of three rooms and because the instrument will process samples, a certain level of safety in the lab must be ensured.

“Hopefully, [on] completion of the preparation of those rooms, completion of the set up, training and so on, we will be able to do some testing in the next week or so,” the chief medical officer said.

Keizer-Beache noted even when in-country testing is set up, some samples will still be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) laboratory in Trinidad to be validated.

She said this is done by other countries, including St Lucia, Dominica and St Kitts who have facilities in place for in-country testing

The chief medical officer said this is done to cross match results at the local lab with the results of tests done at an accredited lab in the region “so we are certain that our results are accurate”.

The Republic of China on Taiwan also donated two PCR machines to SVG for testing. An additional two instruments were also donated by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Taiwan.

This means that after months of waiting, there will be five PCR machines here in SVG.

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