China and US recalls behind delays to Covid-19 test kits

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A DELAY in getting Covid-19 testing equipment is not a problem confined to Jersey, the government chief executive has said following an announcement that the expected arrival of the Island’s kits had been pushed back by at least 15 days.

Ttests being carried out at a coronavirus testing site in a car park at Chessington World of Adventures, in Greater London.......................... Jonathan Brady/PA Wire (27863969)

It was announced on Thursday that 5,000 swab tests to see who had the virus would not be available in the Island until mid-April, despite the Chief Minister saying last week that they would be available within 48 hours.

A further 150,000 antibody tests – which check who has had the virus previously – are on order, and the first batch of 50,000 is due to arrive in the Island by mid-April.

Health Minister Richard Renouf has said the government has been preparing for a potential pandemic since December. And yesterday Charlie Parker, the government’s chief executive, said plans had been in progress since the first cases were announced in China.

Asked why then, given the level of planning, Jersey was still waiting for local testing facilities eight weeks after the Island’s first suspected case, Mr Parker said there was a global issue.

Guernsey has already managed to get on-island swab testing, and carried out its first tests this week.

Mr Parker said: ‘The key thing is ourselves and similar jurisdictions are reliant on supply chains that come from elsewhere and two of those traditionally are China and America, both of which are in a challenging period themselves. Supplies that come in from those locations were stopped and diverted back for home needs.

‘So we are having to use other alternative supply chains to provide some of the key equipment we need. Testing is not just a problem facing Jersey, it’s a problem facing Europe and the UK. We are doing a lot of work to follow alternative supply chains and also to follow good practice to verify the quality of what comes in because you can find in these periods that quality is compromised and we will not do that for Jersey.’

Commenting on Guernsey’s approach, Mr Parker said: ‘Guernsey has gone down a different route and is doing things differently.’

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire

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