Economy

Australia restricts travel to Papua New Guinea

Australia restricts travel to Papua New Guinea”

He also said that he had lodged a request with AstraZeneca to access one million of the country's contracted doses, "not for Australia, but for PNG, a developing country in desperate need of these vaccines".

European Union nations including Italy have recently blocked vaccines from leaving as they struggle to secure enough doses for their own populations.

Australia will also be offering more medical support to PNG, with more supplies and vaccines to be shipped out from next week. "We can not risk people going into those areas and back to Australia", he said.

Australia's closest neighbour is in the grip of a worsening COVID-19 crisis, with more than 1,400 active cases.

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

"We understand the system is very strained", she said.

"This is not Australia seeking to do this for our own direct benefit, although we've contracted them and you would expect them to be supplied otherwise".

Australian GP Dr Alison Brown has been working in Papua New Guinea.

"We are possibly having an infection rate about one to three or four in our country".

"They are finding the same when people are being admitted into hospital in Port Moresby - half of the women who are coming in due to pregnancy are positive".

Mr Morrison said the challenge of containing COVID-19 was "always going to be too great" for PNG.

More news: Sturgeon: Most Covid restrictions to be removed in Scotland by the summer

PNG Prime Minister James Marape said this week his country was now "in the critical red stage" of COVID-19.

"The number is quite staggering, if we don't do [a] corrective response to this, our health system will be clogged and we won't be able to sustain it", Mr Marape told journalists in Port Moresby.

From midnight tonight, passenger flights from PNG into Cairns will be suspended for at least a fortnight, charter flights will also be suspended except for medevac and critical flights.

But he announced a range of travel restrictions on Wednesday, including a ban on fly-in, fly-out workers.

The Australian Council for International Development chief executive Marc Purcell said the Australian government needed to immediately deploy 20,000 vaccines and personal protective equipment to frontline health workers.

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

Masks, gowns, goggles, gloves, sanitiser, face shields and ventilators will be sent to PNG. The AUSMAT team will be part of that analysis, and they will do a critical needs analysis when they arrive next week.

Vaccinations are particularly important for those in the Torres Strait Protected Zone, where people on both sides of the strait form one community.

Barri Phatarfod, from Doctors 4 Refugees, said the Australian government should take responsibility for all the refugees and asylum seekers and bring them back to Australia.

Passenger flights from PNG to Cairns are suspended for two weeks, and passenger caps will be cut for flights into Brisbane.



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