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'No clear evidence genomics needed for immediate Covid response'

Ewart repeats message to committee

The director of public health has repeated her message that on-Island genomic testing wouldn't change government's response to new variants of Covid-19.

Dr Henrietta Ewart gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee today as part of an inquiry into government's handling of the virus, which is covering use of sequencing, isolation rules for the Steam Packet and border controls.

Currently PCR Covid tests are sent to a lab in Liverpool for genomics sequencing with an estimated to 7-10 day turn around.

An offer has been made by the managing director of Taxa Genomics, Dr Rachel Glover, to do them here, with a 24-hour processing time to help more quickly inform decision makers, and the public, which variant is present on-Island and if clusters are linked.

Dr Glover gave evidence to the PAC on the issue last month.

Although Dr Ewart agrees an on-Island facility needs to developed in the long-term she told the committee speedier genomics results would have no bearing on the response to a new strain.

Dr Ewart explained her stance further under questioning from the PAC chairman, Speaker of the House of Keys, Juan Watterson:

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