Statia now has its own COVID-19 test capacity   | THE DAILY HERALD

From left: Dr. Sharda Baboe-Kalpoe of the St. Eustatius Health Care Foundation (SEHCF) and Public Health Department, Dr. Fazal Baboe, laboratory head Siegfried Malone, outpatient department manager Karien Pick, microbiologist Radjin Steingrover, laboratory technicians Rojay Lopes and Dailyn Tolentino, SEHCF director Gerard Berkel and Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij with the COVID-19 test equipment at Queen Beatrix Medical Centre in St. Eustatius on Friday, September 4.ST.EUSTATIUS–St. Eustatius can now perform tests for COVID-19 without being dependent on St. Maarten for analysis. The test capacity is located in the laboratory of Queen Beatrix Medical Centre (QBMC).

The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM in the Netherlands has procured polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test equipment for both Statia and Saba.

Statia has been able to conduct its own COVID-19 tests since last weekend. Having the possibility to independently test for COVID-19 is considered very important, especially in case of an outbreak on the island.

The tests results will be available on the same day the test is conducted, usually within 35 to 50 minutes. This is deemed a milestone for Statia, as up last week tests had to be delivered to St. Maarten. Depending on the availability of flights to transport the samples and the testing capacity in St. Maarten, it took one to four days to receive the test results.

Microbiologist Radjin Steingrover from Curaçao trained the laboratory staff members on how to use the equipment on Friday and ensured that the device was well-placed and calibrated.

The first group of persons who will be tested by the Public Health Department are those currently in quarantine. The department will also start with source- and contract-tracing.

The samples will be analysed in QBMC and sent to the Public Health Department which will inform the persons tested.

Testing capacity is also available for persons who plan to travel and who must be tested for COVID-19 as part of a country’s entry requirements. They can apply for a test at the Public Health Department.

Project leader Dr. Sharda Baboe-Kalpoe of St. Eustatius Health Care Foundation/Public Health Department is “very excited” that Statia now has its own test capacity: “It is like a dream come true. We have all worked so hard to get the device here on our island. Now, we can test ourselves and have the results available on the same day.”

Source: The Daily Herald