Australia bans flights from Papua New Guinea amid fears the island’s spiralling coronavirus cases will wreak havoc Down Under – as Scott Morrison vows to donate 8,000 vaccines
All passenger flights from Papua New Guinea to Australia will be suspended for at least two weeks, as the island nation struggles with its mounting coronavirus crisis.
Scott Morrison also demanded the European Union immediately release one million vaccines that Australia has bought so they can be donated to the country, which is so close to north Queensland you can see it across the water.
European Union nations including Italy have recently blocked vaccines from leaving as they struggle to secure enough doses for their own populations.
Scott Morrison also demanded the European Union release one million vaccines that Australia has bought
Amid fears three quarters of Papua New Guineans could be infected, Mr Morrison will immediately hand over 8,000 vaccines to jab frontline health workers, as well as one million surgical masks, 100,000 gowns, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves, 100,000 bottles of sanitiser, 20,000 face shields and 200 non-invasive ventilators.
Mr Morrison 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.’
Papua New Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world and has struggled to stand up an effective testing and tracing system.
About half of women going to hospital to give birth have are testing positive for the disease.
‘The capacity to manage Covid-19 in a developing country is starkly different to what it is in an advanced country like Australia,’ Mr Morrison said.
PNG Prime Minister James Marape fears said the country has suffered a huge explosion of cases in recent days.
‘The number is quite staggering,’ Mr Marape told reporters in Port Moresby.
‘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.’
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.
Papua New Guinea is struggling with a Covid-19 outbkreak. Pictured: Port Moresby Harbour
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.