Australia flies in Covid-19 test cartridges to Vanuatu

Vanuatu's ability to test for Covid-19 will not need to rely on sending samples to Australia or New Caledonia for the time being.

Hundreds more test cartridges have arrived in Vanuatu, courtesy of an Australian airforce plane which flew in to Port Vila at the weekend, along with humanitarian aid following Cyclone Harold last month.

The Australian High Commissioner, Sarah deZoeten, was at the arrival of the plane with Vanuatu's minister of health, Sailas Bule.

Ms deZoeten said the more than 300 test cartridges would help Vanuatu at a time when the demand for such supplies meant a global shortage.

"So this will enable Vanuatu where it wants to undertake Covid testing, or needs to, to be able to do that in-country with Ministry of Health Officials,' she said, adding that it was part of an ongoing international partnership.

"We will be working with World Health Organisation, Pacific Community and Vanuatu, New Zealand and Australia, to make sure that we continue to ensure that there are supplies of cartridges into the region.

"Obviously there's global demand on these cartridges and we're working closely with our partners to make sure that there is supply into the region."

Vanuatu has ordered over 8,000 cartridges, which are arriving in gradual shipments. The first batch, of 220, arrived last Friday.

There are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country so far.