NZDF flight delivers urgently requested COVID-19 medical equipment

Medical Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 Extraction Kits, urgently requested by Solomon Islands Government to support planned repatriations of Solomon Islanders from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and Vanuatu, arrived yesterday on a New Zealand Defence Force flight.

Solomon Islands remains free of COVID-19, an achievement that is a testament to the hard work of Solomon Islands health officials and border authorities in ensuring all arrivals into the country are quarantined and tested.  In order to continue this health response, additional medical supplies, including testing kits and medical gowns, were urgently sought from New Zealand.

These much needed medical supplies will be used to support frontline medical and border authorities as they manage a complex operation to bring home hundreds of Solomon Islanders over the next month.

The flight also enabled the return of a small number of New Zealand Government officials who work in areas related to the support of Solomon Islands’ development and infrastructure priorities. It also brought in Forum Fisheries Agency staff who are undertaking critical regional work to ensure the intergrity of Pacific fish stocks.

Preventing the spread of the virus remains a priority for both New Zealand and Solomon Islands. A number of steps were taken with this flight to ensure that Solomon Islands’ entry requirements were met and that the integrity of border and health processes were maintained.

Health pre-screening was undertaken before boarding, as is the case for all flights from New Zealand to the Pacific. All incoming officials will undergo mandatory quarantine and need to pass a series of negative tests for COVID-19 before being released from quarantine.

New Zealand has supported Solomon Islands Government with its preparedness and response planning as it grapples with the challenges arising from this global pandemic. Previous support includes urgent rehabilitation of the National Referral Hospital’s isolation ward, provision of a portable x-ray machine, and SBD15m of budget support that will be used by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services for provincial healthcare requirements.

In these times, partnerships are more important than ever. “I’m glad we were able to respond swiftly to the Government’s request,” said New Zealand High Commissioner Georgina Roberts, “and not only source the medical supplies but also transport them here so they can be used to support the repatriation exercise this week.  New Zealand, mifala stand wetim Solomon Islands, longside ol narafala partners blo Solomons, blo suppotem Solomons efforts blo fightim COVID-19.  Kia tū, kia mahi tātou – we stand, we work together.”