The capacity for testing for Covid-19 in St. Lucia will shortly be increased by a massive 400 per cent.
On Monday June 08, CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank presented a symbolic cheque for EC$45,000 to the Ezra Long Laboratory at the Owen King EU Hospital for the purchase of an electronic pipetting system for COVID19 testing. The actual procurement of the system is being facilitated directly by the bank, so as to expedite the equipment acquisition process. The new system is expected to increase the labs’ daily testing capability by 400%.
In March this year, the regional bank – through its charitable arm the FirstCaribbean International ComTrust Foundation, allocated USD$250,000 toward the purchase of the kits and provide other assistance related to the COVID-19 response in the countries across its regional footprint, to be disbursed through its various operating companies across the Caribbean.
CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Saint Lucia Country Manager Victor Boyce said that the determination of the specific national needs with respect to testing equipment was established through direct dialogue with the office of the Chief Medical Officer.
“In light of the urgency associated with testing, it was agreed that while the CMO’s office would provide the equipment specifications, the bank would handle equipment procurement, to fast-track the availability of a rapid testing service on island,” he said, adding that the bank is “extremely pleased to be able to support the national response in such a tangible way”.
On hand for the symbolic cheque handover ceremony were Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George and Head of the Ezra Long Laboratory Dr. Wayne Felicien. In his remarks, Dr. Felicien disclosed that the new system will make it possible for 192 patients to receive COVID 19 test results in 24 hours. “This goes much further than just a contribution towards the SARS-CoV-2 battle. This will facilitate testing for all Public Health related issues that arise in the near future, be it dengue, leptospirosis and other emergent diseases within our region,” he said.
Dr. Belmar-George said that with an average shipping time of approximately five to six weeks, the projected timing for the commissioning of the new COVID 19 system will coincide with the planned timing for the reopening of the borders, and situate Saint Lucia well for rapid diagnostics.
“This increased testing capacity enhances our efficiency in that we will be able to test more persons daily and decrease the waiting time for results. This strengthens the capacity of the public health system, and will be invaluable in the event of a reoccurrence of community spread. On behalf of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, I acknowledge this partnership with CIBC FirstCaribbean in supporting our national fight towards COVID-19.” concluded Dr. Belmar-George.