Australia announces support for Papua New Guinea’s Covid response

Australia will provide support to Papua New Guinea (PNG) to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday that the Australian government will send 8,000 AstraZeneca vaccines and provide essential personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies to PNG, Xinhua reported.

The Australian government will also contact the European Union seeking access to 1 million AstraZeneca vaccines that it has already ordered and send them to PNG.

“We’ve contracted them. We’ve paid for them and we want to see those vaccines come here so we can support our nearest neighbour, PNG, to deal with their urgent needs in our region,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Travel restrictions between the two countries will be tightened to prevent the spread of Covid-19 with a suspension of passenger flights from PNG into Cairns for two weeks after cases were found in Queensland.

Australian Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said all signs pointed towards a “major epidemic” in the community in PNG.

The Australian government on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to the rollout of AstraZeneca’s vaccine despite safety concerns overseas.

Several countries have suspended the rollout of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine following reports of blood clots.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said there was no evidence linking the vaccine to the clots.