Specialist medical team arrives in Solomon Islands, AFP members return home

By Jackson Graham

January 31, 2022

Marise Payne
Australian foreign minister Marise Payne. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

A small specialist medical team from Australia has arrived in the Solomon Islands to provide support to fight a growing coronavirus outbreak. 

The team arrived on the same day that eight Australian Federal Police members returned to Australia from the Solomon Islands after leaving to assist with a peacekeeping mission last year. 

The medical responders, who the government calls an Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT), includes experts in emergency medicine, infectious disease control, logistics and occupational therapy. 

They arrived on a Royal Australian Air Force plane carrying 37,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Foreign minister Marise Payne said the team would work alongside local health authorities. 

“[They will] provide Solomon Islands’ Ministry of Health with mentoring and advice on the clinical management of COVID-19 cases, the distribution of critical health supplies and infection prevention and control,” Payne said. 

Daily COVID-19 cases in the Solomon Islands jumped from zero to more than 100 a day in late January, World Health Organization data shows

An Air Force flight delivered medical supplies to the Solomon Islands earlier this month. Since January 23, 300,800 AstraZeneca vaccine doses and 19 tonnes of emergency medical supplies have arrived from Australia.

The AFP members returned alongside commissioner Reece Kershaw, who was in the Pacific island to meet with Solomon Islands counterpart Mostyn Mangau. 

The duo discussed the country’s recent rise in coronavirus cases and the current security situation, according to an AFP statement. 

The AFP members were among a handful of Australians including Defence force personnel to respond to a request for assistance from the Solomon Islands Government after unrest broke out in the capital, Honiara, last November. 

“Eight of those [are] now returning home for a belated Christmas celebration with their families and friends,” the AFP’s statement said. 

The members arrived in Canberra on Saturday, while 62 AFP members still remain in the Solomon Islands to assist with the peacekeeping efforts. 


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