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NZDF sends medical team to Sinai to help with COVID response

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has deployed a six-personnel medical team to the Sinai to join an Australian Defence Force medical team, following cases of COVID-19 in the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) mission.

12 May, 2021

The Anzac team is assisting with testing and treatment to eliminate transmission as well as establishing procedures to help prevent further cases of COVID-19 in the MFO. Medical personnel from the American, Colombian, Fijian and Italian contingents have also been assisting. 

The NZDF medical team is comprised of a medical science officer, medical officer (doctor), environmental health officer, nursing officer, and two medics. They are providing support to all MFO personnel in Sinai.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the NZDF had responded to a request for assistance from the MFO. 

“The MFO requested additional resources to test and treat personnel following cases of COVID-19 within the mission,” he said.

“A medical team from the ADF surged in to help in early April and our six-person team is in the Sinai now to bolster numbers to get on top of the cases, treat those who are unwell, and put in place further protocols to prevent spread of the virus.” 

“A small number of our 30 personnel in the MFO tested positive for Covid-19. They had mild symptoms and have since recovered. The MFO and NZDF contingent have been using isolation and other precautions to prevent further transmission.”

Rear Admiral Gilmour said the NZDF medical team would be in the Sinai for approximately a month.

All six had been vaccinated against COVID-19 by the NZDF while in New Zealand. They will complete 14 days’ managed isolation on their return.

New Zealand has a long-standing commitment to the MFO, having contributed to the mission since its inception in 1982.

The MFO was established to ensure compliance with the security arrangements of the Treaty of Peace between Egypt and Israel and to observe, report and verify each country’s military presence in the Treaty zones on both sides of the border between Egypt and Israel.

The MFO force in Sinai is currently commanded by a New Zealand Army Officer, Major General Evan Williams. 

The outbreak in the MFO was detected in early April, with immediate steps taken to isolate those with symptoms and close contacts. With the assistance of the NZDF and ADF medical teams, the number of current active cases has greatly reduced.