SUVA, FIJI (1 March 2021) — The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), handed over more than 22,000 Cepheid GeneXpert test kits to the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services today as part of the Government of Fiji’s efforts to strengthen coronavirus disease (COVID-19) prevention activities and the safe continuation of essential basic services.

“This timely donation will ensure increasing surveillance through our communities across Fiji and will boost confidence among our neighbors on the safety of our shore as a tourist destination going forward,” said Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete. “I am very grateful to our donor partners for their esteemed effort in availing these test kits to the ministry.”

The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests are extremely accurate and work by quickly identifying the unique genetic profile of the COVID-19 virus. That will help build the capacity of the local health system to manage COVID-19 cases as well as limit transmission.

“As we move toward COVID-19 recovery, testing will become increasingly important and these testing kits are a vital tool to help stop the virus in its tracks,” said the Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Subregional Office in Fiji Masayuki Tachiiri. “We will continue to work with our partners to help Pacific countries better respond to COVID-19.”

“These COVID-19 testing kits will support frontline health care workers in Fiji to safely provide services to the community to ensure that any potential cases are immediately detected,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative Sheldon Yett. “We thank ADB for the funding support to provide these tests to the Fijian COVID-19 response. We also appreciate the Government of Fiji’s leadership in strengthening the critical services that health care workers provide.”

ADB provided 20,000 of the test kits at a cost of $396,000, while UNICEF provided the remaining 2,220 at a cost of $43,000. The kits were financed through an ADB grant of $7.9 million to UNICEF to support Pacific Island countries in their preparedness and response plans for COVID-19 as well as UNICEF core resources.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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