PNG's fragile health system hit with Covid 'tornado' as staff fall ill

Australia to provide 8,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Papua New Guinea as cases spike

PNG Covid: Australia bans flights from Papua New Guinea over spiralling coronavirus cases

"We're making a formal request to AstraZeneca and the European authorities to access one million doses of our contracted supplies of AstraZeneca not for Australia, but for PNG, a developing country in desperate need of these vaccines", he told reporters in Canberra.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled a range of measures aimed at supporting PNG through the outbreak, which he said posed "very real risks" to northern Australia. They have always stood with us and we will always stand with them'.

Australia is taking drastic action to assist Papua New Guinea with a major outbreak of coronavirus there, which now threatens Far North Queensland communities.

Mr Morrison told colleagues at the meeting that there were 20,000 deaths from COVID-19 around the world each day, with "grief and tragedy" occurring in many places.

PNG has sourced 200,000 AstraZeneca doses from Australia, and 70,000 from India.

Charter flights from PNG are also being suspended (with limited exemptions for medevac and the like) and the passenger caps on flights from Port Moresby to Brisbane are being cut by a quarter.

"They're our family, they're our friends, they're our neighbours, they're our partners".

She raised extra support for PNG's hospitals and vaccinations for healthcare workers as ways the federal government could help.

"If all we see from Australia is an AUSMAT team of three people, that will not be almost enough", he said.

Chief medical officer Paul Kelly said the situation in PNG has "very rapidly" escalated, with over half the cases diagnosed in PNG discovered in the past few weeks.

About half of women going to hospital to give birth are testing positive for the disease.

Other PPE equipment, including masks and sanitiser, will be sent to the island nation. "This is in Australia's interests, and is in our region's interests".

Mr Morrison demanded co-operation from the European Union in sending the vaccines Down Under, adding: 'I expect and would hope to get the cooperation out of Europe for this.

The Morobe Province administration has advised that Angau hospital in the city of Lae has partially closed temporarily due to an increasing number of staff being affected by and exposed to Covid-19 cases.

"We've all said that we need to get vaccines where they're needed".

Marape warned this week that one in three or four people in Papua New Guinea could soon be infected.

Papua New Guinea's rough terrain of high mountain valleys, dense jungles and a lack of infrastructure make gauging the scale of the emergency hard.

"For those who think COVID-19 is a joke, or are playing around; this is a global established pandemic", Marape said.

Australia's mining industry is bracing for travel interruptions after Prime Minister Scott Morrison barred fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers from travelling to and from Papua New Guinea. The AUSMAT team will be part of that analysis, and they will do a critical needs analysis when they arrive next week.

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