Jamaica first in Caribbean for number of COVID-19 tests

KINGSTON, Jamaica— Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton says Jamaica currently ranks first out of 14 Caribbean countries in terms of the overall number of tests administered for COVID-19.

Tufton, who was speaking recently at a digital press conference, commended healthcare professionals for the critical role they play in facilitating the country’s increased testing capacity.

Principal Medical Officer and National Epidemiologist, Dr Karen Webster Kerr, said the figures used for the ranking were as at May 5, when 5,993 tests were recorded. The latest update on May 8 brings the number of tests done locally to 6,633.

Jamaica is followed by the Cayman Islands, which has done 3,050 tests, then Barbados with 2,629. Trinidad and Tobago and The Bahamas round out the top-five countries, recording 2,121 and 1,485 tests, respectively.

Dr Webster Kerr noted, however, that the Cayman Islands surpassed Jamaica to take the top spot in terms of the number of tests per population, at 46,000 per million. With 2,024 per million, Jamaica is ranked ninth. Jamaica has a population of 2.9 million, while the Cayman Islands has a population of 65,604.

The other countries involved in the evaluation are Belize, Haiti, Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Turks and Caicos.

Jamaica’s capacity to conduct COVID-19 tests was boosted with the commissioning of a COBAS machine, located at the National Public Health Laboratory in Kingston, which has capacity for a maximum 1,140 tests per day.

This is in addition to the donation of two diagnostic machines and 7,500 testing kits by major shareholder in the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), the South Korea-based East West Power Korea (EWP), to the National Influenza Centre at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI). This has improved the testing capacity of the Centre from 200 to 986 per day.

In total, Jamaica now has the capacity to conduct approximately 2,126 COVID-19 tests per day.

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