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WATCH: Government sets 500 tests a day target

WATCH: Government sets 500 tests a day target

Thursday 30 April 2020

WATCH: Government sets 500 tests a day target

The government is ramping up its testing regime, doubling in capacity from Monday as part of a wider move towards a goal of examining 500 islanders for covid-19 a day.

If the target is reached, around 3,500 PCR tests, which aim to establish who currently has the illness, will be processed weekly from 11 May.

The news came in an announcement that also revealed intentions to perform antibody tests, which aim to establish who has had the illness and recovered from it, on households every four weeks until the autumn.

The PCR tests will first be provided for all hospital in-patients, essential workers with symptoms, anyone who's been in contact with a positive case, and all those who are referred by GPs or care homes.

They will also be provided "proactively" for health and care workers, blue light personnel, prison and funeral directors.

Video: The Chief Minister announcing the move.

All staff and residents in care homes with a confirmed case of the virus will also be tested, to detect and control any clusters.

"The work we have done to flatten the curve has given us time to put in place measures to deal with a higher number of covid-19 cases," the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said.

"That includes an increased capacity to test islanders for the infection. The new test and tracing regime that starts next week will inevitably prompt an increase in confirmed positive cases and will allow us to identify and monitor the details of these cases."

The Chief Minister said the most urgent tests will be processed in the local laboratory, while the remainder will be done in the UK.


Pictured: The local covid-19 laboratory.

The contact-tracing team will also increase from 24 to 55 people by 11 May to actively follow up each positive case.

It will be split across four locations rather than two, to ensure the service is resilient.

"Current estimates suggest that the 'Stay Home' and physical distancing measures have been successful in stopping the spread of the virus, but community antibody testing will help to check our estimates and produce data that will help us make decisions about when we can start relaxing our lockdown measures," Senator Le Fondré assured.

The news comes as the government is set to launch a new covid-19 community antibody testing programme for 500 randomly-selected households, representing roughly 1,500 people, on Saturday.

Video: A promotional film showing how the Healgen antibody test kits work.

Made by Healgen, the antibody tests will measure the level of antibodies in the blood, produced when the body successfully fights a disease.

The tests will monitor the spread of covid-19 by testing each household every four weeks until early autumn.

This repeated testing will allow researchers to establish how the virus is moving through the community, and it will be extended across the Island in the coming months.

"We are asking the community to come forward and help us understand how much the virus has spread in the Island," Deputy Richard Renouf, Minister for Health and Social Services, said.

"If the take up of the testing programme is good, it will generate a snapshot of the spread of covid-19 though the local community over the coming months, which will help us in our response to the covid-19 pandemic.

"I urge all those who receive a letter or a phone call to take part and help us keep Islanders safe."

Follow Express for updates...


Mass antibody testing starting this weekend

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