Authorities in Jalisco will perform 500 PCR coronavirus tests per day starting on Thursday, Governor Enrique Alfaro said on Tuesday.
Alfaro said that the state government developed the so-called “Radar Jalisco Covid-19 Active Detection System” in conjunction with the University of Guadalajara.
To request a polymerase chain reaction — PCR — test, Jalisco residents must phone a call center that has been set up for the purpose at 33-3540-3001. Final year medicine students will field the calls, determine whether a test is necessary, schedule the tests and provide general information about Covid-19.
The PCR tests will mainly be carried out in the parking lot of the University of Guadalajara Center of Health Sciences but Alfaro said that PCR testing will be available statewide.
Those being tested will remain in their cars to avoid coming into close contact with other people suspected of having Covid-19. The samples will be sent to one of four laboratories for analysis and results will be known in 24-72 hours.
The state government will provide 7,000 PCR tests for the month-long testing initiative while the University of Guadalajara will supply 5,000. Their combined outlay for the testing scheme will be 47.1 million pesos (almost US $2 million).
Governor Alfaro acknowledged that federal authorities have said that there are no reliable rapid Covid-19 tests, adding that they are currently blocking their importation.
In that context, the Jalisco government turned its focus to carrying out a testing scheme using PCR tests, he said.
Alfaro asserted that each day on which large numbers of tests are not carried out represents a missed opportunity to save the lives of Mexicans, adding that he was unconcerned that Jalisco’s coronavirus statistics will increase on paper.
“What we’re doing here is looking after lives. … What we want is to know where we stand – not to be building a strategy blindly,” he said. The aim of “Radar Jalisco” is to test 100% of people with Covid-19 symptoms, he said.
Jalisco had recorded 165 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Tuesday and 11 deaths, according to data from the federal Health Ministry.
The federal government has faced criticism for the low coronavirus testing rate in Mexico, where just over 40,000 people had been tested as of Tuesday.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said last week that the real size of the Covid-19 outbreak in Mexico is likely eight times bigger than that shown by the number of confirmed cases of the disease.