Australia will provide Pacific island countries new rapid diagnostic COVID-19 kits in a joint initiative with the World Health Organization (WHO), the US, and New Zealand, the Australian foreign minister stated Friday.
The first kits reached Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, and Nauru, and supplies will reach a further 9 Pacific island nations in the subsequent two weeks, Foreign Minister Marise Payne mentioned in an announcement.
Many Pacific Island nations haven’t had in-country capacity to test for the novel coronavirus which emerged from China in late December, and have needed to send specimens overseas, along with to Australia.
The kits will enable the WHO to work with Pacific health departments to attain faster and more effective testing, with results anticipated in lower than an hour, the Australian authorities stated.
The entire Pacific Island area has comparatively few cases of COVID-19. People have been asked to stay home with some nations imposing fines of 1000’s of dollars and imprisonment for breaching the tough restrictions.
Australia is the biggest aid donor to the Pacific islands and has sought to step up its engagement out of concern; it risks being overshadowed by Chinese support and financial aid.
Australia and New Zealand are contemplating opening their borders to each other, creating what they call a trans-Tasman “bubble”, as they look to restart their economies after getting the novel coronavirus under control.