COVID-19: Testing to be done locally within next few weeks

Minister for Health Ifereimi Waqainabete speaking in Parliament on Thursday, February 20, 2020. Picture: SUPPLIED/FIJIAN PARLIAMENT MEDIA UNIT

FIJI will have the ability to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus within the next few weeks, says Health Minister Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete.

He made the comment in response to a question posed by Opposition member Dr Ratu Antonio Lalabalavu in Parliament on Thursday.

“As I have alluded to, we have molecular testing which is similar to what is being used for COVIO-19 within the Fiji Centre for Disease Control (FCDC) and we have been in discussion with WHO (World Health Organisation) and recently with the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and we hope to be able to test this locally within the next one or two weeks, or maybe within the next month,” Dr Waqainabete said.

Dr Waqainabete said blood samples for all persons who were quarantined as suspected Covid-19 cases had been sent to Australia with budget provisions for the FCDC from Government.

The Health Minister said the FCDC was currently able to test for a number of viruses and bacteria through two modes of testing.

He said dengue, chikungunya, leptospirosis, measles, rubella and rotavirus were able to be tested using serological testing and dengue, chikungunya, Zika, leptospirosis, measles, rubella, influenza and meningococcal virus was being tested using molecular diagnosis.

Dr Waqainabete said laboratories at divisional and sub-divisional hospitals had testing kits that performed serological testing for four viral infections using patients’ blood samples and these included Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and dengue fever.

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