The Nevis Island Administration (NIA) has secured a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine that will allow for COVID-19 testing to be carried out at their Alexandra Hospital laboratory on Nevis.
Premier Mark Brantley, Senior Minister of Health in the NIA, made the announcement during his monthly press conference on August 26, 2021.
“I am very pleased to report that Nevis now has its own PCR testing equipment; that that equipment has arrived on island through the generous donation of the Drahi Foundation (based in Switzerland).
“We on Nevis have realized that we’ve had some delays. Sometimes we have difficulty because all of the testing had to go over to our sister island of St. Kitts, and so getting our own equipment at our own lab at the Alexandra Hospital means that we will now be able to provide more rapid results for our people and to continue to test as many people as possible,” he said.
The island of Nevis was in March 2021 afforded a grant from the Government of Japan to acquire an additional PCR machine so that testing for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases could be done at the hospital.
Mr. Brantley said that machine is due to arrive in Nevis shortly and having the two pieces of COVID-testing equipment would be of significant service to the people of Nevis as testing is going to be a critical part of the response to COVID-19 going forward.
“We hope in short order to do some testing here; it will be a tremendous cost saving for us. Testing in Nevis, we hope, will allow us to lower the cost, will allow us to respond more rapidly, and will put us in a far better position on the island to fight, together with our counterparts on St. Kitts, this pandemic.
“We are having a real difficulty dealing with the cost of testing because remember when we have contact tracing and we start to talk about 500 plus tests being done, all the (Personal Protective Equipment) PPE, the swabs, all of that we have to fund, and we have to pay the labs in St. Kitts for the tests because remember if you are contact traced you are not the one paying for the test, the taxpayer is paying for the test for you. So that again is millions and millions of dollars that we have been forced to find,” he said.
As at August 25, 2021 some 5582 persons on Nevis had taken COVID-19 tests since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
The NIA Cabinet has approved the hiring of two lab technicians with specific technical expertise in relation to PCR testing and COVID-testing to augment the staff at the Alexandra Hospital lab.
The Premier thanked the Drahi Foundation and the Japan Government for donating the much-needed medical equipment. He also commended Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister of Health in the NIA; Ms. Shelisa Martin-Clarke, Permanent Secretary, and their entire team for their herculean efforts at procuring the critical machines. He described the Ministry of Health team as public servants who continue to do their very best in difficult circumstances for the protection of the island and its people.