Laboratory Superintendent, Catherina Jemmot, has disclosed that the Dominica China Friendship Hospital is now equipped with a top of the line machine to detect and identify the coronavirus and her department is trained and ready to do the requisite testing.
“I think what made us ready for testing in Dominica is foresight, and an understanding that newly emerging diseases are rapidly becoming the norm in this modern era,” she said.
She stated that during the construction of the new hospital, they requested a molecular unit. Molecular testing, Jemmot explained, is done through a machine which provides individualized healthcare through industry-leading diagnostic and reporting capabilities.
A molecular test is a laboratory test that checks for certain genes, proteins, or other molecules in a sample of tissue, blood, or other body fluid. Molecular tests also check for certain changes in a gene or chromosome that may cause or affect the chance of developing a specific disease or disorder.
“We are using molecular testing to identify the virus,” Jemmot said.
She said in 2019, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the Ministry of Health the lab was furnished with “a PCR machine for testing not for Covid 19…we were getting ready for emerging diseases, dengue, Chikungunya and Zika.”
“At this point, we have staff that are competent to test for the Coronavirus…we’ve developed standard operating procedures (SOP) for the collecting and transportation of specimen to the laboratory and not putting anyone at risk,” Jemmot explained. “Thus far, we have tested 28 patients and they have all tested negative…no detection. We do quality assurance and that is key. We run multiple control with every test run with the biologist from Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) who did the training and we observe strict safety precautions at all times.”
The Lab Superintendent further disclosed that they are also in collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Organization (CARPHA)which gives them full “support and guidance”.
“The aim right now is to bring in additional human resource so we can expand our testing,” Jemmot said.