National Compliance and Regulatory Authority
The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is to this week release the details of all approved private sector laboratories that can legitimately test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Several weeks ago, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton was forced to push back at suggestions that the failure by the Government to certify private providers to carry out antigen testing was responsible for thriving backdoor operations on the island. Antigen tests identify people who are currently infected with the virus while PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are able to detect a COVID-19 infection even before the individuals become infectious. Yesterday, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Audley Shaw, in a statement to the House of Representatives during its sitting in downtown Kingston, said the CAC, in a just-concluded market surveillance exercise, was tasked to ensure that various testing facilities that do antigen, PCR and any other approved testing are published and that these tests are appropriately priced so that consumers have access to affordable essential medical diagnostic services.
Shaw, who said the CAC's market surveillance was increased by 45 per cent during the period of the pandemic, noted that the agency has, among other things, heightened public education to report excessive pricing. In the meantime, Jamaicans are being urged to only purchase sanitisers that have been approved by the island's regulatory authorities.Shaw yesterday said as of January 31 this year there are 68 compliant hand sanitisers currently on the market. He said only eight importers of hand sanitisers and five local manufacturers are registered with the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority (NCRA). A list of the approved products, he said, can be viewed on the website of the NCRA at www.ncra.org.jm. In the meantime, Shaw said through the work of the NCRA, which is part of the thrust to strengthen the inspection monitoring and enforcement activities in response to the pandemic, more than 104,000 products were detained at ports of entry. He said after inspection, testing and analysis, 54,000 were compliant and released for sale, while over 176 samples have been assessed for compliance to date. Suppliers of hand sanitisers are registered when there is compliance with conformance testing against the standard and good manufacturing practices observed.
Yesterday, the Opposition People's National Party spokesman on industry, investment and commerce Anthony Hylton urged the authorities to ensure that the over 50,000 samples of hand sanitiser products recently detained at ports of entry that were not approved “were disposed of in some kind of way and wouldn't find themselves on the market”.