Antibody Tests Begin

The first coronavirus antibody tests are being carried out today (2 May).

500 randomly-selected households have been asked to attend one of three sites to get the finger pinprick blood test, with results known in between 10 and 15 minutes.

They will be tested between today and Tuesday (5 May) and then again every four weeks until the autumn.

It's a pilot scheme initially, with results used to form future decisions.

"The tests on the 500 households will show us, statistically, what penetration the virus has made into the island, but our best estimates at the moment are it's no more than perhaps 5%.

"We'll get that figure more certain by the end of next week." - Deputy Richard Renouf, Health Minister.

They see whether people have had coronavirus and developed antibodies to fight the disease.

We're told the testing will be extended across the island 'in the coming months'.

Healthcare professionals who will carry out the testing have taken part in training sessions:

Deputy Renouf says testing everyone at the moment is not really helpful.

"Once, in weeks to come, that will certainly remain under consideration and once we get a greater flow of test kits in and once it becomes suitable to do so, then it may well be something that can be introduced.

"It's not under active discussion at the moment."

He adds that there is still some doubt about whether a positive antibody test actually confirms sufficient immunity and testing people who've been asymptomatic may not suggest they've actually developed immunity.

The government has also announced that the number of PCR swab tests, which show whether someone currently has coronavirus, will double from Monday (4 May).

The contact tracing team will also go up from 24 to 55 people by 11 May.

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