Jersey’s main covid test processing laboratory is now back up and running after nearly four days of glitches - but more than 350 people will still have to be retested as soon as possible.
Swabs will once again be processed at the island’s airport-based Open Cell lab from today, with an expected turnaround time of 12 hours.
The laboratory’s systems first went down on Thursday evening, with a backlog of 3,000 built up by Sunday. The figure now stands at 2,500 after around 500 travellers left the island.
Last night, the Government said that around 190 unvaccinated passengers would be able to leave quarantine following the extended wait time for the results of their test, but they would still need to be retested.
Also needing to be retested are around 100 symptomatic islanders, who have been asked to continue with self-isolation in the meantime, and around 65 direct contacts over the age of 18, who do not need to isolate.
The 55 children currently named direct contacts were allowed to return to school immediately, but it is recommended that they take a lateral flow test before.
Meanwhile, around 250 people awaiting the results of their workforce screening test will be tested again during the next cycle.
The Government said that a risk-assessment was carried out in advance of announcing the retests and removal of quarantine for unvaccinated travellers.
Tests conducted on Sunday and retests from Saturday should expect results by the end of the day.
Deputy Chief Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham apologised for the “inconvenience” caused by the glitch.
“Our aim is to get people who test negative out of isolation as soon as possible and this is the fastest way to do so while the technical problems remain,” he said.
It follows calls last week from the Chamber of Commerce for the Government to make a decision on whether to remove border testing for fully vaccinated islanders. Guernsey announced last week that it would be scrapping all testing for fully vaccinated inbound passengers from Jersey and the UK by the end of October.
Senator Farnham said last night: “Ministers are currently reviewing the Winter Strategy and the Safer Travel policy, and a further announcement will be made in the coming weeks.”
Open Cell's flatpack covid testing lab was first brought to Jersey in August 2020, to speed up the Government's rapid testing regime.
Previously, tests had to be processed off-island. Introducing the lab meant that Jersey was able to increase on-island testing capacity to 2,000 daily and slash waiting times for results.
Since April, the lab has also been processing commercial tests, having struck a deal with local pharmacies. It pledges results in 12 hours or less.
Prior to the glitches, the turnaround time for PCR test results had been around seven hours.
Everyone in need of a retest has been contacted via email. Retests can be booked online or via the covid helpline: 0800 735 5566.
The Government has reminded everyone in isolation that they are allowed to spend up to two hours outdoors, and can also receive support via the Connect Me service.
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