08 April 2020
The Infection and Molecular Sciences Laboratory at Jersey General Hospital has today started testing patients for coronavirus, upon admission, using a ‘rapid technique’.
Following the delivery of the kits, laboratory staff at the General Hospital worked through the night to ensure that the tests were reliable before Islanders’ samples began to be processed. Testing will initially prioritise Health and Community Services (HCS) patients who need to be admitted, and their tests will be requested by hospital doctors.
HCS employees who require testing in order to continue to work will be prioritised after patients. The laboratory is working 24 hours a day, seven days a week and employees have extended their hours to carry out testing.
Previously, Jersey sent samples to the UK for analysis which meant patients waited 48 hours. However, following the arrival of the testing kits, Jersey is now able to carry out its own testing, with patients being given their results on the same day.
The test assesses whether the person is carrying the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the infectious agent which causes COVID-19. These rapid tests are different from antibody tests, which are used to determine if someone has recovered from coronavirus and has developed immunity to the infection. A total of 150,000 antibody tests are expected to arrive in the Island later this month. The same laboratory team will be evaluating them before use, to ensure they are safe and effective.
The Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, says: “It is wonderful news that these tests are now available in the Island. It means that we can now have a quicker turnaround of results, which will provide us with a fuller picture on how best to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in Jersey.
“I wish to extend my thanks to the Hospital laboratory team who have worked tirelessly to source and check the reliability of these invaluable tests.”
Pathology Manager, Adrian O’Keeffe, says: “The ability to test for COVID-19 in Jersey means that people admitted to hospital can promptly be put onto the most appropriate treatment and they don’t need to be held in isolation rooms for 48 hours pending their result. It also gives us a more realistic picture of the current number of infections in Jersey.
“Patients can be assured that the new method has undergone stringent testing by the supplier, and verification in our laboratories, to ensure specificity, reproducibility and suitability for use. Within 24 hours of the new tests arriving in island, around twenty biomedical scientists and laboratory support staff have been trained to perform them.”