Jetboats and flying foxes: Getting RATs to those who need them in Whanganui


Workers employed by the Whanganui District Health Board are using jetboats and flying foxes to help them deliver rapid antigen tests to remote areas.

Burgdorf, Lower Saxyony, Germany - March 28, 2021:  Covid-19 Antigen rapid tests with negative test results


It’s part of a new scheme to ensure that the 250,000 New Zealanders who live remotely have RAT tests on hand.

Whanganui DHB chief executive Russell Simpson says they’ll use any mode of transport required to get the job done.

“Our district covers about 9742 square kilometres, most of it’s really sparsely populated and we have mountainous terrain so getting RATs out to our community is a real challenge.

“We’ve undertaken unconventional methods to get RATs across the district and are currently averaging distribution of around about 12,000 tests per day.”

Simpson says getting RATs to back country farms is important.

“They’ll still be at risk if they are mingling with people who have been exposed to Covid-19 but essentially we want to ensure every person in our district has access to RAT tests and can test themselves at home if required.”

The numbers of new cases in the Whanganui DHB continue to climb, Simpson said.

A lot of people are very wary of the virus and are looking for assurances that the DHB has every practical method available to test, he said.

“By sending RATs out across all of the region using various modes of transport … we’ve even looked at conversations with helicopter providers and we have got a large consignment going up the river next week which will use flying foxes and jetboats to reach some of the outreach parts of the region.”

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