NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS – – “The PCR equipment is now set up, it is now running, it’s now certified, and Nevis is now in the business of doing the necessary testing.”
Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and Senior Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration, made this announcement today, February 24, 2022, during his monthly press conference.
“I can now proudly say we have begun PCR testing at the Alexandra Hospital. I am now pleased to say that all of the testing has been completed; PAHO [Pan American Health Organization] has given us the green light, and in fact, I traveled on a personal trip on Friday last and I was very happy that my PCR test was done at the Alexandra Hospital right here on the island of Nevis.
“I am advised that they are adopting a ‘go slow’ approach and so they will start formally accepting clients on Wednesday, March 02 and the hours of testing will be announced.”
The NIA’s Ministry of Health and Gender Affairs over the past several months acquired a QuantStudio 5 PCR machine through the generous donation of the Swiss-based Drahi Foundation, and a GeneXpert PCR machine purchased with grant funds from the Government of Japan.
Mr. Clester Roberts, Lab Supervisor at the Alexandra Hospital, said presently only the QuantStudio 5 is operational but they hope to have the second machine installed in the near future.
“We began doing PCR testing on February 07. Right now our focus is mainly on diagnostic testing, that is, testing of symptomatic patients and for contact tracing. Very soon we will be moving towards doing testing for traveling purposes.
“The machine we are using is the Quantstudio 5, however it is not only specially for COVID-19; we can use it for other purposes. Even when the pandemic is over we can use it to do anything related to PCR testing and DNA and RNA testing, multiplying RNAs to detect whatever disease or function you want it to. The other PCR machine is not installed as yet, but we are in contact with the company to get it installed,” he said.
The NIA would have also purchased a bio-safety cabinet used to provide the sterile conditions necessary when performing PCR testing. Mr. Roberts said the piece of equipment is therefore vital to the overall process of PCR testing.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing is considered indispensable in the management of COVID-19. The molecular-based testing also has a wide range of clinical applications with respect to infectious disease and central nervous system disease diagnostics.
Premier Brantley said while Cabinet has not yet determined the cost of the new service, Members are keen to apply the same or an even lower fee than is presently charged in the Federation.