Samoa runs short of test kits

Samoa is running short of coronavirus (COVID-19) test kits as more people get repatriated from New Zealand and undergo a 14-day quarantine upon their arrival in the country.

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, spoke of the test kits shortage crisis during his interview programme with the 2AP radio on Tuesday.

He said the number of test kits they currently have on hand total below 200 and there is no guarantee that the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) will receive the next batch of testing equipment any time soon. 

“Currently, this is the major challenge the Ministry (M.O.H.) is experiencing,” he said.

Tuilaepa revealed that the Government has approached New Zealand for assistance and he has put the request to his Kiwi counterpart, Jacinda Ardern.

“(The request) is for New Zealand to stay prepared to help Samoa with this,” he added.

A repatriation flight that flew into Samoa last Friday came in with over 100 passengers who are currently undergoing quarantine.

Attempts by the Samoa Observer to get a comment from the M.O.H., in relation to the number of test kits that are now available for those currently in quarantine, were unsuccessful.

Le Mamea Dr. Limbo Fiu, who practices with the Health Specialist Centre, said in April this year that the COVID-19 test kits are only available to those who display a high fever, dry cough and have a history of travel.

“We can’t test everyone with a sniffle,” he cautioned. “That would not be a prudent use of this scarce resource.”

Meddent has not given the clinic a full quote yet, but Le Mamea predicts each test will cost at least $50 tala each, based on the costs of other GeneXpert tests. The clinic is paying for the entire order and freight, he said.

Only 240 genexpert cartridges were confirmed to have arrived in Samoa since the start of attempts to fasttrack the sending of testing equipment.

Even the Chinese Government’s donation of 1000 P.C.R. tests (previously 500) is still in China awaiting proper cold chain transportation.

In April this year, the World Health Organisation’s Country Representative to Samoa confirmed that 6000 GeneXpert tests were set aside for Samoa. However, he could not confirm the date of their arrival in Samoa.

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