From as early as next week, the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory should be in a position to screen positive COVID-19 cases for all variants.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, made this announcement during a COVID-19 update and press conference this evening. He said equipment sent overseas to be recalibrated to facilitate the screening was returned yesterday.
“I am happy to say that there is going to be some validation over this weekend to make sure that the shipping process did not affect the calibration. Once that is successful, then the lab would be in a position from early next week to be able to screen all positive cases for all of the variants. This is a significant step in the process; this will allow us to see exactly what we’re dealing with,” said the Health Minister, who noted that the public health laboratory had already started screening for the Alpha variant.
He further added that primers received from the Pan American Health Organization would assist the lab in testing for other variants.
Meanwhile, he pointed out that the Ministry had sent off more samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to be screened.
Minister Bostic also disclosed that the British High Commission in Barbados had made an offer to assist in this regard, while not going into detail.
He said the public health laboratory had been given the resources to purchase equipment which would allow persons there to perform genomic tests and sequencing, with assistance from Barbadians in the diaspora who were experts in this field.
“The most important thing, really, is the fact that hopefully from next week, once all goes well this weekend, we’ll be in a position to do the screening for all positive cases, so we will be able to do the first screening for all of the variants,” Minister Bostic emphasised.