(PAHO) – Virology experts from the Pan American Health Organization travelled to the Caribbean region earlier this month to ensure that laboratory specialists are trained and equipped to identify and respond to potential imported cases of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
Training in the Caribbean began in Suriname, followed by Barbados and Haiti, and continued in Jamaica, Belize and Dominica.
PAHO experts also travelled to Bahamas and Guyana to complete this initiative in the sub-region.
In addition to this, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago informed that its laboratory is ready to respond to the new coronavirus.
“As one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, the Caribbean must prepare to detect and respond quickly to imported cases of COVID-19” said Yitades Gebre, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Countries. “Providing countries with the reagents and knowledge needed to perform early diagnosis is key for outbreak response and protecting our populations.”
During the training, laboratories, which include both National Influenza Centers and Flu national labs, are provided with the diagnostic materials required to test for COVID-19. This includes primers, probes and positive controls. Participants are then trained in the main tests and protocols available and carry out a practical exercise of molecular detection.
The laboratory training in the Caribbean forms part of an overall initiative to ensure that 29 laboratories are ready to detect COVID-19 in the Region with the US CDC in Atlanta serving as the regional reference laboratory.