(The following is a joint release from the World Health Organization, Australian High Commission and New Zealand High Commission on the arrival of COVID-19 testing equipment in Samoa for your information and discretion.)
(8th May 2020); Samoa will be better able to detect and prevent the spread of COVID-19 with the arrival of new laboratory testing equipment procured by the World Health Organization (WHO) with funding from donors including Australia and New Zealand. Additional and critical assistance and funding are being provided by the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Island Health Officers’ Association (PIHOA) and UNICEF.
Pacific island countries and territories will be receiving GeneXpert testing equipment, which over the coming months will allow samples to be tested in-country – in some for the first time. The GeneXpert testing system provides reliable results within 45 minutes.
Samoa has received a small initial batch of the testing equipment, with further batches to follow over the coming weeks.
Until now, many Pacific island countries have had no in-country capacity to test for COVID-19, requiring specimens to be shipped internationally. SPC and WHO have been working with health departments across the region to ensure they are ready to start GeneXpert testing for COVID-19.
‘WHO has been able to secure prioritised access to GeneXpert tests for the whole of the Pacific with financial contributions from development partners – who are working together as member organisations of the Pacific Joint Incident Management Team (JIMT)’ said Dr. Rasul Baghirov, WHO Representative to Samoa.
‘The choice of GeneXpert testing kits is a practical and appropriate one because the GeneXpert machines are already available locally and COVID-19 testing can commence almost immediately,’ Dr Baghirov said
‘Australia is pleased to support Samoa and to stand with our Pacific family as our region faces the threat of COVID-19’, said Australia’s High Commissioner to Samoa, HE Ms Sara Moriarty.
‘Early detection of the virus will be essential to preventing widespread transmission,’ Ms Moriarty said.
‘New Zealand is privileged to be working with Australia and the World Health Organization to provide COVID-19 testing capability to Samoa,’ said HE Dr Trevor Matheson, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Samoa.
‘Accurate and timely testing is a crucial component of managing the COVID-19 response and protecting Samoan communities,’ Dr Matheson said.
The Governments of Samoa, New Zealand and Australia, with the World Health Organization, coordinated the delivery of the testing equipment from Brisbane to Apia via Auckland.
Australia and New Zealand have each contributed AUD 1 million and NZD 1 million respectively to WHO to procure the testing equipment.
Australia and New Zealand have strict protocols to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 in the region, which apply to handling freight and supplies. Passengers and crew are subject to health checks before departure, and surfaces and equipment are disinfected regularly.