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COVID-19 Testing Available on Ascension

15 June 2020

Government, Press Release

On Tuesday 02 June an RAF operated flight arrived at Ascension carrying a number of critical medical supplies destined for both Ascension and St Helena.

As well as further vital provisions, Georgetown Hospital also took delivery of a machine capable of testing for COVID-19. The testing platform is a Cepheid GeneXpert machine which is a type of molecular analyser able to deliver a test result within an hour.

Following work to commission the machine, and further calibration exercises, the platform is now in operation and ready for use.

The ability to test quickly, reliably and repeatedly is a key element of AIGs plan to combat the threat posed to our community by COVID-19. It is intended that the machine will be used as a diagnostic tool for possible COVID-19 index cases, allowing medical staff to either confirm the presence of COVID-19 or quickly rule it out, and no longer require isolation measures to be observed for the individual and their close contacts.

Procurement of this machine was facilitated by colleagues within the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Public Health England (PHE) tasked with supporting Overseas Territories (OTs) during the COVID-19 pandemic, with delivery to the island kindly provided by RAF colleagues.

In addition to being able to test for COVID-19, the machine provides the ability to test for other viruses and bacteria such as respiratory infections, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and HIV. As such, this will further increase Georgetown Hospital’s ability to tackle public health threats beyond COVID-19 in the future.

AIG is expecting to take delivery of another machine later this month to add resilience to the island’s testing capabilities. In addition, access to off island testing capacity, facilitated through USAF and RAF colleagues, remains in place.