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Covid testing lab on way from NZ to Tokelau

Thursday 27 August 2020 | Written by Gray Clapham | Published in Small World

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People on remote Tokelau are expecting the imminent arrival of custom-made laboratory containers (pictured) that will enable them to check and test for Covid-19 on the territory.

The laboratory setup consists of two shipping containers containing a GeneXpert testing system, sterilisation kits, air-conditioning and a range of equipment needed for the testing process.

Administrator of Tokelau Ross Ardern says New Zealand decided to send the laboratory so “Tokelau can have a state-of-the-art laboratory for not only testing Covid-19, but other viruses as well”.

The containers are currently on their way to Tokelau via Samoa, and proper training for the use of the laboratory and equipment will be given to local medical staff on the island.

Tokelau, a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand, is the only South Pacific territory that does not yet have GeneXpert.

“It will give results quite quickly,” Ardern said. “Whereas if we didn’t have the device in Tokelau, then those samples will have to come to New Zealand, and of course the journey of distance will work against us.”

Tokelau’s Director of Health Dr Silivia Tavite says Tokelau is very appreciative of New Zealand’s help to their pandemic response.

“Tokelau to date continues to be Covid-19 free and there is a sense of relaxation in our local communities. But there is a real need for Tokelau to complete appropriate preparations and build resilience as Covid-19 is here to stay,” Dr Silivia said.

The laboratory will be based on Nukunonu which is where Tokelau’s National Referral Hospital is located and will cater to the medical needs of all three atolls.