Australian personnel deployed on Operation Mazurka in Egypt will be better protected from a COVID-19 outbreak after the ADF sent 500 testing kits to the region.

The kits will also be used for others in the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) peacekeeping effort in the Sinai.

The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing kits and a testing machine were flown from Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East, Camp Baird, to Sharm El Sheikh on November 16 by an Air Force C-130 Hercules.

The equipment was forwarded from the Joint Task Force 633 (JTF633) following a request from the 27-person ADF contingent in Egypt dealing with the threat of COVID-19.

Logistics officer with JTF633, Lieutenant Colonel Anita Gannon, said the support to the personnel deployed with the MFO was a priority.

“When the request for support was received, we ensured the testing kits and machine were made available and delivered at the earliest opportunity,” she said.

Commander of the Australian contingent on Mazurka Lieutenant Colonel Sam Waite said the MFO was grateful for the support of the ADF.

“The deployment of PCR testing kits and machine will effectively increase our testing capability,” Lieutenant Colonel Waite said.

“They will support the MFO force surgeon and preventative medicine’s efforts to contain any COVID-19 outbreaks on our facilities should it occur.”

The capability to conduct greater testing will ensure appropriate action is taken quickly should a confirmed positive case occur.

JTF633 senior medical officer Commander Janine Gregson said the machine and kits would go a long way to ensure the health of Australians and other MFO personnel in the Sinai.

“Quick identification of symptomatic flu-like members as COVID-positive, or negative, will ensure personnel can take timely and appropriate action,” Commander Gregson said.

“The capability to conduct greater testing will ensure appropriate action is taken quickly should a confirmed positive case occur.

“Along with advice from JTF633 and Joint Operations Command on how to manage cases, who to test and what the appropriate precautionary and quarantine measures are, the Australian contingent and the greater force are being very well supported.”