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Samoa to receive 200 coronavirus testing kits

Some 200 rapid testing kits for the coronavirus could be in Samoa as early as next week after the Chinese Embassy purchased newly-developed kits capable of producing results in under half-an-hour. 

“The Embassy has purchased 200 kits and they are already on their way,” a spokeswoman for the Embassy said in an exclusive interview on Friday afternoon.

The Embassy purchased the testing kits from its own budget in a private purchase concluded with the China National Pharmaceutical Company. 

“The quick test kit works by detecting antibodies in the blood,” the spokeswoman said. 

The kits were only brought to market and given regulatory approval in China in January.

A study in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Virology said the test could return results within 15 minutes, much faster than the current standard testing.

The kits were purchased by the Embassy itself from the open market and are on their way to Samoa via sea cargo. 

“I hope we can get it by the end of next week,” the spokeswoman said. 

“We want to receive it as soon as possible.

“We really want to lend a helping hand to the Samoan side.”

But the consignment’s arrival will be subject to potential delays that have been plaguing cargo freight into the company.

The spokeswoman said that the initial consignment of 200 testing kits was regarded as a “trial” and that they would be prepared to order more if they were found to be suitable for use in Samoan hospitals.

China’s Ambassador to Samoa, Chao Xiaoling, signed off on the purchase from the company, one of China’s largest pharmaceutical the state-owned, Beijing headquartered China National Pharmaceutical Group. 

The alternative model of testing, known as P.C.R. 200, is in use in Australia and New Zealand.

P.C.R. 200 based kits examine samples of a patient’s bodily fluids for patterns that match the genetic code of the coronavirus. 

They can take about six hours to compute in the laboratory but patients in Australia are being told to wait between 48 to 72 hours from the point of collection to receive a result.

The current suspected coronavirus patient in Samoa will be having her test performed under such a method at a lab in New Zealand.

But Samoa lacks the accompanying medical equipment and laboratory which would allow it to process P.C.R. 200 based tests. 

Mounting pressure on pathology services in countries such as Australia and Japan, which only use the P.C.R. 200 model kits, have led to calls for those countries to approve and adopt the rapid kit alternatives. 

While not yet approved for use in Australia or New Zealand, the kits received the green light from European regulators this month. 

Earlier this month the Samoa Observer reported that Poao Dr. Lamour Hansell, who is in charge of the Ministry of Health’s coronavirus task force, said Samoa currently lacked testing kits. 

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