Molecular Biology Laboratory supports tourism development in Ciego de Avila.
The Molecular Biology Laboratory (LBM) of the province of Ciego de Avila supports the development of tourism operations in the Jardines del Rey destination by processing up to 500 samples per day for PCR-RT (Polymerase Chain Reaction, in real time) from travellers.
Dr. Tatiana Artiles Herrera, head of this department, said that of the more than 1,100 tests carried out in one day (to detect SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus), 400 to 500 correspond to travellers entering or leaving through the international airport of the northern cay of Avila, considered the second most prominent sun and beach destination in the country.
When the flights arrive, passengers are randomly checked and, in the case of Canadians, all are examined before returning, as required by tour operators, based on existing agreements between Cuba and Canada, he explained.
The rest of the samples come from hospitals, isolation centres, consultations for acute respiratory infections and population studies (in vulnerable areas or areas with a higher concentration of cases) and institutional studies (in work centres, children’s centres and homes for the elderly, mothers and the disabled), mainly.
He pointed out that last December they carried out more than 34,800 examinations, and so far in January they are approaching 8,000, some 300 corresponding to incoming tourists and around 2,000 to those leaving the country at the end of their stay.
At the beginning of the year, the number of studies carried out on the population at risk increased, due to the increase in positive cases of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, after the holidays and as a result of the epidemiological complexities in Cuba and the world, he said.
Artiles Herrera stressed that the diagnostic actions correspond to the characteristics of the virus, which tends to manifest itself in a mild or asymptomatic manner after immunisation, which increases the risks of transfer among the population, also due to the high level of contagiousness.
The doctor pointed out that samples are taken in the places with the highest concentration of cases and sent to the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine in Havana to determine the presence of omicron, a new variant of SARS-CoV-2.
Located among those with the largest capacity (three thousand tests per day) due to its importance in ensuring the reliability of tourist operations, the LBM has modern technology, including three thermocyclers with total space for 216 samples per run, explained the Clinical Laboratory specialist.
Another guarantee is the completion of the staff, distributed in four teams of six or seven workers, mostly young graduates in the years 2020 and 2021, such as graduates in Clinical Bioanalysis or Clinical Laboratory Technicians, the latter linked to higher education, she said.
He also referred to the indispensable work of the support staff: computer technicians, cleaning assistants, pantristas and autoclave operators (in charge of handling and decontamination of solid waste).
Since its opening on October 2, 2020, the LBM of the province of Ciego de Avila, located in the Hospital Provincial General Docente Roberto Rodríguez, in the municipality of Morón, due to its proximity to Jardines del Rey, has processed almost 700,000 samples for PCR-RT, a figure that places it among the best performers in the country.
The head of this department recalled that at the beginning they were performing about 40 tests a day, so it seemed impossible to reach a thousand, however, in just two months they reached and surpassed that figure.
This institution, one of the first of its kind in the nation, contributed to the diagnosis of the disease in travellers arriving by other air terminals and patients from provinces in the central and eastern regions, as well as supporting the accreditation and training of professionals from Sancti Spiritus and Camagüey.
In the territory of Avila, the disease is also diagnosed in the Microbiology Laboratory located in the capital city, using SUMA technology (Ultra Micro Analytical System), by antigen detection, but the presence of the virus is only confirmed on the basis of the results of the LBM.