09 April 2020
I’m pleased to say that, after a great deal of work from many people, we have now started analysing tests for Covid-19 here in Jersey.
To clarify – these are the testing kits we hoped to receive last week, so I’m delighted they are now here.
Now we no longer have to send all of our tests to a specialist lab in London to be analysed, and we can get results in as little as two hours instead of 2 days.
The hospital lab worked through the night to ensure that the kits were reliable, before starting to process Islanders’ samples. Then yesterday, staff started testing patients for coronavirus as they were admitted into hospital - using a ‘rapid technique’.
The first priority is to test patients as they’re admitted. Then we’ll be rolling out the tests to Health staff who need to be tested to continue to work.
These tests check whether the person is carrying the virus that causes COVID-19.
That’s different from antibody tests, which can tell if you have recovered from coronavirus and developed immunity to the infection. Our first batch of antibody tests is due to arrive in the Island later this month. We already have a small sample of these kits, and the same laboratory team will be evaluating them before use, to ensure they’re safe and effective.
Health and Social Services Minister
It’s wonderful news that these tests are now available in the Island. We can now have a quicker turnaround of results, and that will give us a fuller, real time picture of how this infection is spreading. And that will, in turn, help us decide how best to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in Jersey.
Testing on-island means that anyone admitted to hospital can be put immediately onto the most appropriate treatment without needing to be held in isolation rooms for 48 hours while they wait for their result. It also gives us a more realistic picture of the current number of infections in the island.
I’d like to reassure you that this new method has been tested by the supplier, and verified in our laboratories, to ensure it is safe, effective and suitable for our use. And just 24 hours after the new tests arrived, we’d trained around 20 biomedical scientists and lab support staff to perform them.
I’m very grateful to the Hospital laboratory team who’ve worked long hours to source and check the reliability of these invaluable tests, and who’ve extended their hours to carry out the testing.
I’d like to finish by thanking you for Staying Home. We’ve made good progress in flattening the curve, and the latest statistics show that the measures we’ve taken appear to be having some impact.
But we must keep it up. I know it’s a holiday weekend, but If we let things slip now, we’ll almost certainly see the curve steepening. And this would put our people, and our health service, at serious risk of harm.
So please – stay home, keep your distance, and save lives.