9 Apr 2020

Waiting game as Pacific lags on Covid-19 testing

7:19 am on 9 April 2020

By Lisa Williams

Pacific health authorities are playing a waiting game for Covid-19 test results as most island nations and territories don't have on-island testing for the coronavirus.

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Photo: AFP

Although only a handful of New Zealand's Pacific neighbours were able to do such testing there were plans to change that.

Anyone who's had the Covid-19 test in New Zealand had their results back within a day or two.

For Pacific neighbours, including the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga, that wait for results can take a week or more.

Covid-19 testing requires laboratory facilities which only exist in five Pacific locations,including Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

But Paula Vivili of the Pacific Community is working towards 23 island nations or territories doing their own testing.

Tuberculosis testing gear in the Pacific just needs special cartridges for coronavirus testing.

A batch of the test cartridges was set to arrive in Fiji from the World Health Organisation before the end of the month.

From there they will be shared across the Pacific, where health officials will have one final waiting game, a wait for flight connections.

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama opened the country's first facility capable of testing for the coronavirus.

Fiji is one of the few Pacific locations with Covid-19 testing facilities Photo: Facebook / Fiji government