Island virus testing will give results in 24 hours

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After a delay, the equipment arrived in the Island this week and more than 20 biomedical scientists and laboratory support staff have been trained to use it.

The government had faced fierce criticism for failing to secure on-Island testing – particularly as Guernsey had quickly made facilities available. Previously tests had to be sent to the UK for analysis, often causing a backlog in results of several days.

Now the laboratory will work 24 hours a day seven days a week, with tests results being known within a day.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister called on people to not loosen their resolve after the Island had made good progress in ‘flattening the curve’ of cases.

He said: ‘I want to thank Islanders for abiding by the stay home instruction. Our progress in flattening the curve is good, and shows that the measures we have implemented do seem to be having an impact.

‘I must emphasise, though, that we are at an incredibly early stage and we may yet see a steepening of the curve.

‘If Islanders begin to loosen their resolve, and deliberately break social-distancing guidance, then we will almost certainly see the curve steepening.

‘And this would put our people and our health service at serious risk.’

The number of positive cases in the Island has not risen as steeply as medical experts estimated, with graphs showing Jersey was expected to have well over 200 positive cases of Covid-19 at this point.

Health employees who require testing in order to continue to work will be prioritised after patients.

Pathology manager Adrian O’Keeffe said: ‘The ability to test for Covid-19 in Jersey means that people admitted to hospital can promptly be put onto the most appropriate treatment and they don’t need to be held in isolation rooms for 48 hours pending their result. It also gives us a more realistic picture of the current number of infections in Jersey.’

A delivery of 150,000 antibody testing kits, which show if someone has already had the virus and built up some immunity, is also expected later this month. It was confirmed last week that the first batch would number 50,000.

However, since the kits were ordered, other jurisdictions, including Guernsey and the UK, have put their orders on hold due to question marks around the reliability of the kits.

The government was asked for a comment on any new position with regards to the antibody testing.

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