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According to the Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton, the Jamaican Ministry of Health and Welfare is investigating the potential use of COVID-19 self-test kits at the local level for monitoring or surveillance of the virus at the personal level and business.

He said his department would review the available information and investigate how such a test could be used in our situation.

“There have been some questions regarding the use of self-testing, which means a test that you administer yourself, as opposed to a lab doing the actual testing. This has become more popular globally as the technology evolves and now becomes a more important part of overall organizational level self-policing,” Dr Tufton told Parliament.

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“I have had meetings with the critical technocrats within the ministry and this discussion will be expanded to [other] critical stakeholders, with the aim of evaluating and, hopefully, enabling the introduction, as soon as possible, of these self-testing kits for personal use and corporate-level monitoring.

Dr Tufton added that his ministry will engage with the private sector to increase the number of testing laboratories for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and antigen testing.

This initiative involves a partnership with the Jamaica National Accreditation Agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Trade, as well as the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and the Jamaica Private Sector Organization.

In the meantime, Dr Tufton said the Jamaican Ministry of Health is also in dialogue with the Ministry of Transport and Mines regarding standard airline requirements that require COVID-19 testing for travel.

“It’s for the purpose of trying to meet those requirements. Some of those requirements are out of our hands; that’s what airliners need. They normally require a lab validated test [and] to the extent that we can make the process more efficient and less expensive, we will pursue that,” he noted.

CMC