Jersey has been consistently below its target of 500 covid tests a day from 11 May - but only because there aren't enough people wanting to get tested, the Chief Minister has said.
Responding to questions from Express on Friday, Senator John Le Fondré said Jersey has now reached its desired capacity of 500 tests for covid-19 a day, but that the uptake has been slow.
Plans to ramp up the island’s testing regime were first announced at the end of April, with the government pledging that PCR (diagnostic) tests would first be provided to all hospital in-patients, essential workers with symptoms, anyone who has been in contact with a positive case, and all those who are referred by GPs or care homes.
Pictured: Not enough people want to be tested, the Chief Minister said.
They also announced the tests would be provided "proactively" for health and care workers, blue light personnel, prison and funeral directors.
But figures released last week by the Health Minister, Deputy Richard Renouf, were far below the desired 500-a-day target.
Answering a question by Deputy Rob Ward, the Minister said that between 11 May and 29 May, only 2,932 tests had been carried out, an average of 162 tests per day.
Tests processed last week showed an average of just over 200 tests processed daily.
Video: The Chief Minister assured Jersey is able to test 500 tests a day.
But the Chief Minister defended against any suggestion that this is because the island isn't able to perform 500 tests a day.
In fact, he said it was because islanders just haven't been rushing to get them.
The 500 swabs per day capacity has now been achieved through the opening of a new drive-through testing centre near the airport, which comes in addition to the Five Oaks one, and the creation of the airport arrivals hall testing centre.
In addition, there is a mobile testing unit and teams making home visits to test islanders.
In terms of processing, the Hospital Lab can go through 200 PCR swabs a day while the new airport drive-through has capacity for around 200 a day. There is additional capacity with Five Oaks, the mobile unit and Airport arrivals, making the total capacity over 500 a day.
“We are at the capacity to do 500 tests a day if we need to,” Senator Le Fondré assured. “It's essentially the number of people coming in wanting a test has not reached that capacity."
He continued: “We can only test the people who come to us. You cannot force someone to go and have a PCR test. You cannot force people to take the test if they don't want it at this stage."
A Government spokesperson said that now there are fewer people exhibiting symptoms who require PCR testing, they are also screening people without symptoms to pick up asymptomatic cases.
The Chief Minister stated that, as of Friday, 8,465 samples have been tested - a figure he said has “significantly gone up” over the last few weeks.
“For me, that's a real positive,” he added. “We've been saying, ‘We're going to get the testing improved.' We've obviously got a fairly robust process and then, if you look at the volumes we're dealing with now, we are doing, I'd say, pretty well.
“People should really be taking comfort that we've got a good robust testing system in there if they need to take advantage of it.”
In addition to the 8,465 swabs tested, a total of 6,457 antibody tests have been completed on essential workers to check whether they have been in contact with covid-19.
he second round of community antibody testing has also now been completed. A sample of 1,000 randomly selected households were tested, and the results of the study are expected to be published this week.
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.