Samoa has received an initial batch of the testing equipment, as confirmed by a joint press statemenr by the government and our development partners who made it possible.
Samoa and other Pacific Island Countries (PIC) will soon be able to detect and prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus with GeneXpert testing equipment that is said to provide reliable results within 45 minutes.
Australia and New Zealand each contributed AUD $1 million and NZD $1 million respectively to procure the testing equipment that will allow much needed in-country testing for Samoa and other PICs.
A press release does not give the number of tests received in country so far, but does confirm that, “Samoa has received a small initial batch of the testing equipment, with further batches to follow over the coming weeks”.
Procured by the World Health Organisation, the laboratory equipment have been funded by Samoa’s closest and loyal development partners, Australia and New Zealand with additional assistance provided by the Pacific Community (SPC), the Pacific Island Health Officers’ Association (PIHOA) and UNICEF.
The assistance will prove critical for many Pacific Island countries with no in-country capacity to test for COVID-19. Samoa has so far, needed to send specimens to New Zealand for testing with a three day delay in results.
WHO representative to Samoa, Dr. Rasul Baghirov, says 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).
“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.
The Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, HE Ms Sara Moriarty who opted to stay in Samoa throughout the recent State of Emergency and lockdown period said Australia is pleased to support Samoa; “and to stand with our Pacific family as our region faces the threat of COVID-19”.
“Early detection of the virus will be essential topreventing widespread transmission”, said Her Excellency the Australian High Commissioner.
Hoping to return on the special Air New Zealand flight scheduled for the 22nd of May from Auckland, New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa HE Dr Trevor Matheson, said they are privileged to be working with Australia and the World Health Organization to provide COVID-19 testing capability 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 both taken strict protocols to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 in the region, which also applies to handling freight and supplies.
Passengers and crew are subject to health checks before departure, and surfaces and equipment are disinfected regularly.