PORT MORESBY – Even as Papua New Guinea's airline, Air Niugini, announced it will cease carrying inbound international passengers from midnight tomorrow, expatriate workers and their families were flooding back to Australia to escape the closure of its borders.
Australia has been a late starter in providing an adequate response to the spread of coronavirus and even now there is controversy about whether it has done enough.
The crack down on foreign nationals represents another step up in a response that many experts have criticised as being too little, too late.
Australia has shortages of coronavirus testing kits, protective gear for health workers, intensive care unit capacity and respiratory equipment.
Meanwhile yesterday was a severely shambolic day for Australians in PNG including diplomats and people working in the private sector and on aid programs for NGOs and contractors.
There is serious concern that if the disease takes hold in PNG – which has so far not had one confirmed case – the poor state of the health system will result in its rapid spread and many deaths.