Jersey's government is to significantly ramp up its testing for covid-19, with hundreds of public and private sector workers now being offered a free test, including teachers, supermarket staff and cleaners.
The new testing plans include the swab (PCR) test to see if someone actually has the virus now, and the pinprick (serology) test for antibodies, which confirms if a person has had the virus in the past.
The PCR tests will initially be for essential workers only, based on their risk of contracting or spreading the disease.
Yesterday evening, the Government confirmed that the workers who will be given the PCR tests first include:
Video: An antibody test being carried out.
On average, they will receive their results within 48 hours. Anyone who tests positive will be required to self-isolate, along with members of their household, and the usual contact tracing process will be followed.
Earlier this month, the government began an antibody testing program, with a sample of households, designed to establish how far the disease has spread through the general population.
After being contacted via letter, 438 households totalling 855 individuals - below the desired figure of 500 households - chose to take part. They will now undergo testing every four weeks.
The results suggested that around 3.1% of the population (plus or minus 1.3%) has been infected with covid-19. This equates to around 2,700 cases across private households in Jersey and 3,300 in the wider population.
Pictured: The next phase of testing will include supermarket staff, and other workers who have remained at work through lockdown.
The next phase will involve further testing being offered to teachers, utility workers, cleaners, supermarket staff, and other workers, who have remained at work through lockdown.
Deputy Richard Renouf, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “Testing remains a key component of our strategy to combat the spread of COVID-19, and we are expanding our programme of testing accordingly.
“The data we receive will not only inform the big decisions around how we control the pandemic in the coming months; it will also allow us to keep essential workers and their families safe and reduce the number of transmissions within the community.
“I’d like to thank all of the staff across Government who have worked so hard to increase our capacity to test more Islanders, including those who have worked to establish a new testing centre at the carpark at Jersey Airport.”
Pictured: A new testing centre has been established at the carpark at Jersey Airport.
Earlier this week, government officials expressed strong concerns about a new private facility offering drive-through covid-19 antibody testing at Tamba Park, suggesting it will spread "fear and confusion".
Orchid Care Services are offering the pinprick blood tests to islanders at a cost of £74.95 to adults, and £50 to frontline workers, as well as providing "tailored solutions" for businesses.
But, despite assurances that staff would be kitted out with PPE, less than 12 hours after the facility's launch, government officials warned islanders to be "extremely cautious before giving their blood in a setting that we cannot verify meets clinical standards for care".
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.