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Rapid tests onboard humanitarian flight

The Chairman of the Sheraton Aggie Grey’s has donated 3000 antibody rapid test kits to Samoa and hopes a humanitarian flight from Shanghai will get them to their destination soon.

Wenying He, Chair of Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows and Black Sands Casino, is based in in Shan’xi Province in China. He is making the donation of COVID -19 IgG/IgM Rapid Tests personally, rather than from the hotel.

Qing Tian, the Chief Executive of Aggie Grey’s Hotel Limited and Mr. He’s liaison said the plan is for the tests to come to Samoa on a humanitarian flight organised by the Government of French Polynesia that as yet has no fixed date for departure.

The Air Tahiti Nui charter will begin in Shanghai and stop in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa before returning to Tahiti delivering medical supplies donated from across China. 

For Samoa, the flight should also be carrying 1000 rapid tests donated from the Chinese Government, increased from 500 tests pledged last week, as well as medical supplies and personal protective equipment (P.P.E.) donated by other private donors. 

One of the donor parties is the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (C.P.A.F.F.C.).

The Presidency of French Polynesia has been approached for comment.  Air Tahiti Nui deferred all questions to the Presidency. 

The donation means Samoa now has 4000 rapid tests en route to the country which as of April 7 has been unable to ascertain the full scale of any COVID-19 outbreak because of a lack of testing capacity. A further 200 tests have been donated by the Chinese Embassy in Samoa, and they are now in Auckland awaiting transport to Samoa.

An order of 500 GeneXpert tests has been made for private clinic the Health Specialist Centre, and another undisclosed amount for the Ministry of Health from the test supplier in Papua New Guinea.

So far Samoa has tested 31 people, 20 of which have been negative and 11 swabs are waiting transport to New Zealand on the next available flight.

Those who have been tested had fever, flu like symptoms and a travel history within two weeks of showing symptoms. 

“The public will be updated regularly on the number of people meeting the criteria for COVID-19 testing and their test results,” a Ministry of Health COVID-19 update released on Monday states.

“Tests using the GeneXpert machine available at our laboratory at Moto’otua are anticipated within the next 3-4 weeks.”

On Monday, the Samoa Observer wrote to the Ministry of Health and the Government Press Secretary to ask how the tests will be used on their arrival, and which testing strategy will be employed to decide who to test.

As of Tuesday afternoon, neither has responded. 

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