COVID-19 equipment a welcome gift for the Mount Isa Hospital

Glencore has provided $45,000 for the new GeneXpert IV-4 instrument, cartridge and nasal swab collection kit to enable local COVID-19 testing, and dramatically reduce the timeframe for test results.

Having a COVID-19 testing instrument based in Mount Isa eliminates the need to transport COVID-19 nasal swap samples to Brisbane or Townsville for analysis, reducing the waiting time for results from days down to just three hours.

Until now, COVID-19 nasal swab samples had to be flown from Mount Isa to another regional centre for analysis, and a reduction in flights to Mount Isa created a lag in receiving results, which supported the need for regional COVID-19 test analysis equipment.

The North West Hospital and Health Service's Acting Chief Executive, Dr Karen Murphy, has welcomed the new equipment and said it was vital that the region expanded its local testing capacity.

"The GeneXpert tests are accurate and have a turnaround time of around three hours. While the cartridges needed for the machine are still in short supply, this equipment will be crucial for diagnosing urgent cases," Dr Murphy says.

"Quicker turnaround times and testing closer to home is critical to rural and remote locations and, in particular, our vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities."

Dr Ulrich Orda, Director of the Emergency Department at Mount Isa Hospital, says this machine would also be a valuable asset long-term.

"It can analyse other respiratory viruses, staph infections, influenza A and B, and some STD's, so it has further application beyond the Coronavirus pandemic," Dr Orda says.

"Prompt diagnosis means we can start treatment immediately, isolate the patient, and curb potential exposure to the community."

Maryann Wipaki, General Manager for Health, Safety, Environment and Community for Glencore, says partnering with our local community is one of the key pillars of Glencore's business.

"In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Glencore has targeted its funding towards purchasing vital medical testing equipment to improve testing capability, with a rapid test result. This eliminates the need to transport test swabs," Maryann says.

Betty Kiernan, Chief Executive Officer for the Laura Johnson Home, says the organisation was pleased to lend support and assistance for the acquisition of this valuable piece of equipment.

"While it is important for the testing of all suspected cases, it is invaluable for all front-line Health and Aged Care Workers to be tested promptly," Betty says.

"It reduces the stress of delayed results and assists in keeping our front-line staff where they are needed most".

Globally Glencore has established a $25 million Community Support Fund to assist communities during the Coronavirus pandemic. Glencore is working closely with governments, health agencies, and other key responders to identify their needs to provide the most effective response possible.