COVID-19 update and press conference – January 14, 2021. (PMO)

Government is seeking to supplement its current COVID-19 medical personnel to prevent “burnout” of those currently on the frontline.

During a COVID-19 update to the nation from Ilaro Court last evening, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley pointed out that staff at the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory, as well those at government quarantine and isolation facilities have been working tirelessly, and to prevent “burnout”, Government is seeking additional assistance.

According to Ms. Mottley, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, had considerably advanced the work of bringing more medical personnel from Cuba to the island, and “over the course of the next week or so we will begin to receive the benefit of those persons”.

She went on to explain why the enlisting of additional medical personnel was needed.  “Let me say that we’re not just bringing in people for the sake of it. But one of the things that became clear to me very early on is that we have to build redundancy… so that when we bring in persons, it’s not just simply because we don’t have persons, we have people, but if you don’t give people the opportunity to rotate in and out, we’re going to have burnout,” the Prime Minister said.

Following up on the additional resource previously mentioned in the form of a mobile lab from China, Ms. Mottley informed the public that Minister Walcott had since reported that the mobile lab would not be available before the middle of the year.

However, she mentioned that Government, over the last couple of weeks, had received some mobile briefcase tests from the Government of Israel, authenticated by the Pasteur Institute, and a virologist had volunteered to further validate the briefcase tests.

Upon validation of the mobile briefcase tests, the Prime Minister highlighted that they would do “exactly the same thing that the mobile labs would have given us the ability to do, and therefore it is critical that we await those results over the course of the next few days”.

Ms. Mottley also disclosed that the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory was looking into LAMP Technology. According to the website, Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) “is a single tube technique for the amplification of DNA”, and is a low cost, fast and portable test, as compared to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology for detecting COVID-19.

She said that Government was also in discussions with a private sector entity who was well advanced in establishing another lab facility.

The Prime Minister pointed out that she is satisfied that with the implementation of such additional measures, the country would be able to address the “additional burden” of having to provide travellers to Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America with COVID-19 test results.

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