CARPHA Now Testing for Novel Coronavirus

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The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) now has the ability to do testing for the Novel Coronavirus, which the World Health Organisation has named Covid-19. The CARPHA Laboratory is accredited to internationally recognised standards and provides testing services for national laboratories, not for individuals. It takes between 24 and 48 hours from the time CARPHA receives a sample to get the results, which are shared electronically with Member States.

CARICOM‘s Communications Officer, Jascene Dunkley-Malcolm recently spoke with Executive Director of CARPHA, Dr. Joy St. John, who gave an update about the work CARPHA has been doing in relation to the disease.

In the interview Dr. St. John explained what the virus was, how it can be transmitted and debunked a number of myths that have been circulating. She also gave some useful tips that can help to prevent the spread of the virus in the event of an outbreak, but hastened to point out that there were no reported cases in the CARICOM Region and that the current risk of an outbreak was low.


The virus was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

On Thursday, 30 January, the WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency, or a public health emergencies of international concern (PHEIC).

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