Australia to Send COVID Vaccines to Papua New Guinea

Australia will supply Papua New Guinea with 8,000 AstraZeneca vaccines as the island continues to struggle with an outbreak of coronavirus. 

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced the vaccines will be sent immediately, along with other equipment to help combat the outbreak. 

Morrison’s announcement comes days after Papua New Guinea warned of its nearly 1 in every 3 or 4 people infection rate. 

Official reports state there are 1,400 active cases of COVID-19 in the country, but there is speculation that the true number is much higher. As of March 10, only 50,000 tests had been administered, which is only a small percentage of the country’s 9 million citizens. Australian officials have announced that nearly half of the tests administered last week have been coming back positive, including those of healthcare workers. 

Port Moresby Hospital’s COVID-19 isolation ward is full and many of the hospital’s additional beds are quickly becoming occupied as the number of cases grow. Many medical workers have tested positive, and more than half of the nation’s total of 2,269 cases have only been reported in the last month. 

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape said, “The number is quite staggering, if we don’t do [a] corrective response to this, our health system will be clogged.” He also announced that he had requested one million doses from AstraZeneca for Papua New Guinea.

The Australian state, Queensland, will continue helping Papua New Guinea with COVID-19 testing. So far, authorities are reporting 250 positive results out of the 500 tests administered. 

Amid growing concerns that an outbreak could spread to Australia, Morrison announced a two week travel ban on charter flights and all other outbound travel to Papua New Guinea.

Australian authorities have found 32 cases from the island nation in Queensland already. 

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