A new multi-million-dollar sophisticated COVID-19 PCR testing laboratory has gone into operation in Barbados.
Considered the first on-site cutting-edge PCR testing lab in the region, the facility is located at the Crane Resort Barbados and provides incoming and outgoing travellers with a “dream experience” while navigating the COVID-19 process.
Owner of the Crane Resort Paul Doyle has revealed that while the usual turnaround time for PCR test results is 24 hours, his technology-driven lab can have them in the hands of visitors and Barbadians within “a couple hours”.
“We are now at the position where we now have a fully functional COVID lab. We can do all the types of tests that are required including the more sensitive of the PCR tests with very sophisticated automated equipment. We have got four lab technicians and a couple doctors,” Doyle told Barbados TODAY in a telephone interview.
The lab is offering a ‘Jetsetter’ package for US$109 that includes personal VIP service through airport customs, immigration and the various health ministry processes, transfer to the resort, a rapid antigen test on departure and a luxury isolation suite at no charge if a fully-vaccinated visitor tests positive.
“We have a package with both tests. The only difference between a local and a visitor is that the local starts with an Antigen and comes back with a PCR and visitors the other way around. So we put a package with both of those together with a fast-track through the airport for US$199,” the resort owner stated.
The hotelier said testing was being done on guests at the Crane and swabs for travellers who turn up at the hotel. “It then goes into our own lab and you get the results.
“The more sensitive PCR tests take a little while…take longer than other tests, but a very sensitive quality PCR test, we can get out in about three hours,” Doyle said.
He disclosed that the facility has the capacity to undertake hundreds of tests per day.
“We are not doing a lot right now because Government is testing for free at the Grantley Adams International Airport and you know it is not easy to compete with free. We are doing all the tests for people to go home and we are ready to do more testing in large volumes if it is ever needed,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Doyle pointed out that Barbadians who are leaving the island, patronize the lab in their numbers.
“We have had a lot of locals who are travelling that need a test come by. Guests from other hotels also come around. We are refining the process, we are improving it…but it works well. We have been testing for a couple months now. Best Dos Santos has been a great help…they have been monitoring the process very closely to make sure we are correct which is good and we appreciate it,” the Crane boss stated.
Doyle also announced that the Crane was considering a special plan for Barbadians who must go into quarantine on their return home from overseas.
“The other thing we want to do for locals is that if you travel and come back, you need to quarantine until you get your test results back….so what we are doing is with that package I mentioned…you come right to us, we would swab and test you…you just relax at the Crane, have dinner and by dessert you would have your test results back and you could go home and you don’t need a hotel room,” he explained.
The hotelier said he intended to keep that service going and build on it.
“Right now we are only running one run a day…a run is like 93 tests…93 people; and we are going to add a second run probably within a week. But we could add three or four or five runs and keep going. So we are going to have an earlier run so that people who are going to be testing more in the morning they could get it to us and they could be out for dinner,” Doyle disclosed.
Doyle told Barbados TODAY that the focus of the lab is currently on protecting Barbados and keeping everyone safe through seeking to determine who is positive or negative.
“Our focus is on basically protecting the people of Barbados, our staff and visitors to find out who is positive or negative very quickly and accurately,” he said.
The prominent hotel owner was adamant that the more than US$1 million invested in the lab facilities and associated elements are worth the money from a tourism and health and safety perspective.
In terms of staff at the lab, he is delighted that the technologists who work there are Barbadians. ([email protected])