Shadow Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Morais Guy, is calling on the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, to remove the limit on COVID-19 testing at government facilities and ensure that as many persons as possible are tested each day.
“There should be an increase in testing, and every person who shows up for testing should be guaranteed a test sample,” he said.
His call comes amid rising COVID-19 cases, reportedly cased by the highly infectious omicron variant, and reports that France has detected yet another variant. Called IHU, as of now, the new strain was discovered by academics based at the IHU Mediterranee Infection on December 10. The new variant, which has been detected in 12 patients near Marseille, contains 46 mutations, making it more resistant to vaccines and infectious, according to media reports out of France.
On Monday, Jamaica recorded 385 new COVID-19 cases, from 1,111 tests, leading to a positivity rate of 40.6 per cent.
However, Dr Guy said he received information showing that only 25 test samples are conducted per day at St Joseph's Hospital. He said this is the wrong approach and goes against the convention of testing as many as possible to eliminate all the potential risk factors.
“The limitation on testing is also counter-intuitive because we are currently experiencing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases from the rise in transmissibility of the current variant, and for this reason, we would want to do more testing, not less,” he underscored.
The Opposition Spokesman said the limit on testing from a public health point of view would give a false impression regarding the number of persons with COVID-19.
As of Monday, Jamaica had an overall COVID-19 case count of 96,331 and 2,479 deaths. So far, 66,064 persons have recovered from the virus. 172 persons are now hospitalised with COVID-19, four of whom are critically ill and 20 severely ill.