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NZDF medical officer joins Australian response to Fiji Covid surge

A New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) medical doctor has deployed to Fiji to join an Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) providing support to health authorities following a surge in cases of COVID-19 in Fiji.

29 June, 2021

The Government recently announced two New Zealand medical specialists would be embedded with the AUSMAT. They include New Zealand Army medical officer Major Naomi Gough, a public health physician with a wide range of experience in communicable disease control, who is set to join the team after completing Fiji’s quarantine requirements.

The AUSMAT’s work will include health system management and infection control measures.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said Major Gough had extensive experience in public health, and provided expert medical advice and support on operations.

“We’re pleased to be able to deploy Naomi to embed with the joint Australia-New Zealand team and support our neighbours in Fiji with their response to the outbreak,” he said.

Major Gough said that as a part of the AUSMAT team she will be responding to Fiji’s request for assistance and will be there to provide public health support to the Fijian response.

Her career as a public health physician includes leadership roles in communicable disease control and incident control for outbreaks.

“Communicable disease control is not just about the bug, it’s taking into account the broader challenges that individuals and communities face when responding to an outbreak, and thinking about solutions that will not only support control measures, but build community resilience and wellbeing,” she said.

Major Gough is expected to be in Fiji for about five weeks.

New Zealand Army medical officer Major Naomi Gough

As well as being vaccinated, Major Gough and others in the AUSMAT team are taking a range of precautions to protect themselves and prevent spread of the virus including having their own supplies of Personal Protective Equipment and daily testing.

Major Gough will complete 14 days managed isolation on her return to New Zealand.

The NZDF recently deployed a six-person medical team to the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai, where they worked with counterparts in the Australian Defence Force and personnel from other nations assisting with testing and treatment to respond to a COVID-19 outbreak.