Today the Australian High Commission officially handed over the qPCR machine to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

The machine is now properly set-up and operational to enable COVID-19 testing to commence this week!

The ceremonial occasion also marked the official opening of the refurbished pathology laboratory at the National Referral Hospital. Australia funded the upgrades (including electrical, water supply, and waste management systems, and a new autoclave) to ensure the existing laboratory meets appropriate safety and infection control standards. Testing of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 must be performed in a biosafety level 2 (BSL-2) laboratory.

Dr Simon Burggraaf, an Australian adviser from the World Health Organization (WHO) is providing direct support to lab technicians who will be conducting the COVID-19 testing in Honiara. Australia is also facilitating remote assistance from some of the best specialist epidemiologists and lab technicians in the world at the Menzies and Doherty Institutes in Melbourne.

Handing over the machine and refurbished lab, High Commissioner Dr Lachie Strahan said strong collaboration between the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region and Australia had contributed to the success in achieving in-country testing capability.

Source: Australian High Commission Office