A Royal Australian Air Force C-17A aircraft arrived in Honiara today (24 January) carrying the first of two shipments of an Australian package of emergency medical supplies to support the Solomon Islands government’s response to an escalating COVID-19 outbreak. The 19-tonne package includes 100 oxygen concentrators and 11 COVID-19 country kits, which include PPE (masks, gloves, sanitiser, infection control equipment), medical supplies and equipment to help manage and contain the outbreak. The two flights will also deliver a total of six tonnes of UNICEF emergency water and sanitation and dignity kits.
In addition to this immediate COVID-19 support, the Australian government is rapidly procuring a second tranche of medical equipment. This includes a new GeneXpert machine and equipment for COVID-19 test processing; a mobile cool room and back-up incinerator for waste management for the National Referral Hospital; and a replacement forklift and new incinerator for the National Medical Stores.
Marise Payne, minister for Foreign Affairs and minister for Women, said Australia was committed to standing with our friend and neighbour as it faces significant pressure on its health system. “Australia and Solomon Islands know the importance of partnership. Responding to this current COVID-19 outbreak together continues our long tradition of working together,” Payne said.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said: “Tackling COVID-19 is a global challenge and I am pleased the ADF can support Solomon Islands’ pandemic response. This comes on top of the ADF’s deployment of personnel to Honiara in November last year to help the Solomon Islands Government restore law and order.”
Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja, said the latest support came on top of the 263,000 AstraZeneca vaccines doses Australia has delivered since the beginning of the pandemic. “We’re partnering closely with Solomon Islands Government to identify any additional support required,” Seselja said.