- The New Zealand Government aims to get the reproduction number (R) to less than 1 and reduce ongoing community transmission
- New Zealand’s National COVID-19 Laboratory Group was established to coordinate the delivery of testing across the country
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The 20th edition of Medlab Middle East, the MENA region’s most prominent medical laboratory exhibition and congress, which concludes today, has shone the spotlight on laboratory leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on the New Zealand Government’s response to the pandemic.
During the Laboratory Management Conference, attendees heard from keynote speaker Dr Sally A. Roberts, Acting Clinical Director, LabPlus, Clinical Microbiologist and Infectious Diseases Physician, Microbiology Department, LabPlus, Auckland Hospital, Auckland, New Zealand, about New Zealand’s elimination strategy for COVID-19. She explained that by reducing transmissibility, contact rate and duration of infectivity, the Government aims to get the reproduction number (R) to less than 1 and reduce ongoing community transmission.
During the 18 months of the pandemic, Dr Roberts explained that New Zealand learnt that it is critical to have multiple platforms for testing for COVID-19 and establish referral pathways to manage the surge. Also, to develop contingency plans for reagent/consumable shortages or equipment failure.
“The role of clinical leadership in the laboratory during the pandemic is to keep the ship steady and try to keep pace with a rapidly changing space. There is also the need to provide an interface with clinicians around appropriate testing and explaining uncertainties, and to be realistic about testing capacity based on consumables supply,” Dr Roberts said.
“High performing leaders are your best asset during a pandemic, and great teams are resilient, and they work to improve the process. They problem-solve, they anticipate, and they make sure that the task gets done. Most importantly, they look after each other,” she added.
New Zealand’s first case was identified on 28 February 2020, and the borders were closed on 19 March. A four-tier alert system was introduced on 21 March, and the country moved to level four alert just a few days later, on 23 March. Up until 9 June 2021, New Zealand’s national testing volumes stood at 2,175,651 PCR tests, just under 4,000 tests per day. To date, New Zealand has had 2,723 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 with a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 0.96%, according to the New Zealand Ministry of Health.
During the pandemic, the existing New Zealand Microbiology Laboratory Network took on the role of promoting best practice through collegiality, collaborating with Public Health and providing advice to the Minister of Health and Medical Officers of Health.
Meanwhile, the new National COVID-19 Laboratory Group was established to coordinate the delivery of testing across the country, mainly focusing on supply chain issues, agreed testing strategies and support for validation of assays.
Rejoy Penacerrada, Conference Director for Informa Markets, said: “The global pandemic has presented major challenges for clinical laboratories, and many lab specialists and technologists are working selflessly and standing on the forefront of the battle against COVID-19. Conferences such as this play an important role in strengthening care in medical laboratories and improving the role of pathologists and technicians amidst the pandemic.”
A virtual showcase of Medlab Middle East will continue until 22 July.
About Medlab Middle East:
As the MENA region’s most prominent medical laboratory exhibition and congress, Medlab Middle East plays a crucial role in developing the value of laboratory medicine in reshaping the future of diagnostics by providing a platform for laboratory industry leaders, including manufacturers, dealers and distributors, to share best practice, showcase innovations, collaborate and network.
Medlab Middle East stems from 15 years of growth alongside the MENA region’s largest healthcare event, Arab Health. Now in its 20th year, this annual medical laboratory meeting brings together exhibitors and attendees from over 140+ countries
Medlab Middle East will take place from 21 – 24 June 2021 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai, UAE. A digital event will occur from 23 May – 22 July 2021.
About Arab Health:
Arab Health is the largest healthcare event in the Middle East and is organised by Informa Markets. Established 46 years ago, Arab Health provides a platform for the world’s leading manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors to meet the medical and scientific community in the Middle East and subcontinent.
Arab Health Congress is reputed for delivering the highest quality Continuing Medical Education (CME) Conferences to medical professionals in the region.
Arab Health 2021 will take place from 21-24 June 2021 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and in a digital event format from 23 May-22 July 2021.