Highest Covid rise in MONTHS hits Queensland as it sees influx of infected travellers from Papua New Guinea
- Queensland has recorded its highest rise in coronavirus cases in two months
- Of eight cases discovered overnight in hotel quarantine, six had come from PNG
- Highest daily rise in Queensland since nine new cases recorded on January 8
- Flights from PNG to Cairns suspended due to rising infections in Pacific country
Queensland has recorded its highest rise in coronavirus cases in more than two months after an influx in Covid-positive travellers flying into the state from Papua New Guinea.
Health officials in the Sunshine State confirmed eight cases of Covid-19 were found in hotel quarantine overnight.
Six of those eight cases were returned travellers who had come from Papua New Guinea.
The daily rise in cases is the highest since Queensland Health announced nine new infections on January 8.
A masked passenger at Brisbane Airport on December 1. Queensland health officials said six cases have been found overnight among returned travellers from Papua New Guinea
The spike comes just a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced he was suspending flights from PNG to Cairns due to surging coronavirus infection rates in the Pacific nation.
Australia will meanwhile send 8,000 coronavirus vaccines to the country to immunise frontline health workers and combat its spiralling outbreak.
Mr Morrison on Wednesday announced urgent support for Australia’s northern neighbours.
The federal government will also request one million doses ordered from Europe for Australian use be redirected to PNG.
‘They’re our family. They’re our friends. They’re our neighbours. They’re our partners,’ Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
‘They have always stood with us and we will always stand with them.’
The initial 8,000 jabs will come from the Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccines, which are expected to be ready from next week.
Australia will send protective equipment, tents, air conditioning units and 8,000 vaccines to Papua New Guinea to help the country fight the growing Covid-19 pandemic
Since the beginning of January, Papua New Guinea has recorded 2,351 cases of coronavirus and 26 confirmed deaths – with fears this will continue to grow.
Papua New Guinea Health Minister, Jelta Wong, told Today testing for the virus in the country ‘has been an issue’.
‘With the complacency of people around the country it forced us to go into isolated lockdown next week to slow down the virus,’ he said.
Professor Glen Mola head of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Port Moresby Hospital said a good indication of community transmission was the fact that one in every ten women coming to the hospital to give birth were carrying the virus.
‘So that means there’s going to be massive community transmission when one out of every 10 people has got the virus in their respiratory tract,’ he said.
Since the beginning of January, Papua New Guinea has recorded 2,351 cases of coronavirus and 26 confirmed deaths – with fears this will continue to grow
Medical equipment and personnel will also be shipped to the country in the coming days
Professor Mola said the virus was also weighing heavily on frontline workers.
‘When they test positive of course we have to send them home to isolate, so that takes 10 per cent of our workforce away every week,’ he said.
‘If this continues then we will lose 50 per cent of our workforce within a month or so, which would take us down to levels where it’s almost impossible to continue the service.’
From Saturday all passenger flights from PNG into Cairns will be suspended for two weeks, with charter flights also halted except for medevac and other critical routes.
Mr Morrison on Wednesday said giving vaccines to the country was the right thing to do and believed Australians would agree.
‘I think Australians understand that that is one of our responsibilities and as an advanced nation that has had such incredible success in managing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, I think they would be generous in spirit,’ he said.
‘They’re our family. They’re our friends. They’re our neighbours. They’re our partners. They have always stood with us and we will always stand with them.’
All passenger flights from PNG into Cairns have been suspended for two weeks
Australia’s support for Papua New Guinea
* 8000 doses from Australian vaccine stocks for frontline health workers will be sent to PNG next week.
* The government will make a formal request to AstraZeneca to access one million doses for PNG (paid for by Australia).
* Masks, gowns, goggles, gloves, sanitiser, face shields and ventilators will be sent to PNG.
* An AUSMAT team to travel to PNG next week.
* Australia will seek Quad partners’ (India, Japan and US) assistance for the vaccine rollout.
* Western Province vaccine and medical supplies will be rolled out in treaty villages, where there is movement between Torres Strait islands. Vaccinations will be undertaken by the Queensland government.
* Passenger flights from PNG to Cairns are suspended for two weeks, and passenger caps will be cut for flights into Brisbane.
* Outbound flights from Australia to PNG are suspended, apart from travel for essential and critical workers.
* Air freight services will continue.