As a result of the Ministry of Health experiencing significant delays in COVID-19 testing, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says Government will be engaging private laboratories, including the Forensic Lab, to help in easing the burden.

The Government-operated Ezra Long Laboratory is the only credited facility on island performing PCR COVID-19 testing.

Being the only facility tasked with testing for the virus, the Lab is now facing a formidable backlog of virus tests, leaving patients waiting much longer periods before receiving their results.

Several civil society groups including the Saint Lucia Medical and Dental Association, Bankers Association, National Youth Council and the Opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party have called on the Government to engage private labs to facilitate COVID-19 testing.

During an address to the Nation on February 2, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet announced his Government’s plan to enhance the island’s COVID-19 testing protocols for easier access for individuals who need to get tested.

In addition to that, Government will engage private laboratories to help reduce pressure on the Ezra Long Lab.
“Antigen tests will be used for screening in high-risk settings and workspaces.

Training on Antigen testing began today.

• Exit test for travelers will be facilitated at private laboratories.
• Mass testing will be introduced, to increase population coverage. In light of increasing cases and community spread, two additional Wellness Centres will be used as testing sites; one in the South and one in the North.
• To reduce the backlog and burden on the Ezra Long Laboratory, the Forensic lab will receive samples from two of the largest facilities (Vieux Fort and Gros Islet Polyclinic) and nationals will also have the option of testing at private laboratories,” Chastanet said.

Source : Loop SLU

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