New Zealand companies get green light to import 300,000 rapid COVID-19 tests

Some of the country’s largest companies will be able to introduce rapid antigen testing at their critical work sites this month after the government responded to calls from business to allow import of rapid tests into New Zealand.

More than 25 companies applied for emergency government approval last week to allow rapid surveillance testing to begin in New Zealand, providing an extra layer of health protection for employees and helping to keep the venue going. of work.

Today, the business coalition confirmed an order of more than $ 3 million for 300,000 Abbott PanBio COVID-19 Ag Rapid tests to be imported into New Zealand, after the government, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry of Health gave their opinion. support at the start of testing.

“These are companies that want to do their best to protect the health and safety of their teams, and in an environment where you have community transmission of the virus, rapid testing becomes a critical part of that,” said said the chief of Auckland airport. Executive Adrian Littlewood.

“Rapid antigenic testing is also essential to ensure the continuity of critical work sites, those that provide the essential products and services that sustain our country.

“We thank the government, the MBIE and the Department of Health for their prompt response to our request to import rapid antigenic tests and look forward to working with them as our core workforce begins to use the tests. in the days to come, ”Mr. Littlewood said.

Abbott PanBio COVID-19 Ag Rapid tests, purchased through medical supply wholesaler and distributor EBOS Healthcare, are expected to start arriving in New Zealand from October 21, 2021 and will be distributed to participating companies. Funded by participating companies, the tests will be tested in a variety of sectors including manufacturing, primary industries, energy, food production, telecommunications, freight, aviation and elderly care.

Auckland Airport plans to introduce rapid testing for a range of operational employees, but will initially focus on daily testing for essential employees working on critical infrastructure projects, such as airfield security guards. overseeing fuel pipeline upgrades at the airfield.

Mainfreight Managing Director Don Braid said: “Mainfreight has successfully introduced rapid testing at job sites in 26 countries around the world and we intend to replicate regular testing at our 83 sites in New Zealand. , for the benefit of our employees and our customers.

“We would like to recognize how business has come together to work with government ministers, the Department of Health and in particular MBIE to achieve this. “

Chris Quin, CEO of Foodstuffs North Island, said: “At a time when the challenge for Delta New Zealand is greater than ever, it is renewed for everyone to be able to work together in government and business to activate this additional test solution. We need to do all we can and this is a positive step to help better care for our teams in the stores and in the supply chain that New Zealanders depend on. “

Rapid antigen testing is widely used overseas as an additional tool to curb the spread of COVID-19, providing on-site results within minutes to help identify chains of transmission, reassure employees, and ensure workplace continuity. job.

The tests, which will not replace existing PCR tests for border workers or those with symptoms, provide results in about 15 minutes, unlike PCR tests which can take days to return results. They usually cost around $ 10 to $ 15 each.

Genesis chief executive Marc England said rapid antigen testing would strengthen the protection of personnel at power plants such as Huntly, who play a vital role in New Zealand’s energy grid.

“The immediacy of rapid antigen testing will add another layer of protection to the saliva tests we already have in place. Huntly’s skilled workforce plays a critical role in New Zealand’s energy security; Antigen testing will give our staff reasonable confidence before entering the site that it is safe to do so and ensure that the plant remains operational. “

The companies participating in the trial are: Mainfreight, Foodstuffs North Island, Genesis, Hynds Pipe Systems, Mercury, Summerset Group, Wellington Airport, Christchurch Airport, Sky NZ, Queenstown Airport, Spark, Vodafone, The Warehouse Group, ANZ Bank, Contact Energy, Fulton Hogan, Countdown / Woolworths NZ, Fletcher Building, Carter Holt Harvey, Meridian Energy, DHL Express NZ, Air NZ and Auckland Airport.

About the event:

Name: Abbott Panbio COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device

Application: nasal

Result time: 15-20 minutes

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