CANBERRA - Australia will send a medical team to Papua New Guinea next week to help manage a serious escalation in Covid-19 cases.
Last week a large cluster of people with Covid-19 emanated from the infectious diseases unit of Port Moresby General Hospital.
As a result Port Moresby is in a further 14 day shutdown and the Marape government has imposed a number of significant restrictions on travel, business and other activities.
In response to PNG’s request for international assistance, made in conjunction with the World Health Organisation, Australia is sending a team of medical specialists and crisis response staff to Port Moresby.
This forward team will provide immediate on ground assessment to improve laboratory strengthening, case management, infection control, emergency management and public health.
Dr Paison Dakulala said PNG may also need assistance from the Australian medical team in contact tracing and testing when it arrives in the country.
For its part, the Australian government is also planning for a further deployment depending on the results of the on-ground assessment.
As PNG’s largest development partner, Australia has boosted part of its development program funding to provide a package of Covid-19 support, including laboratory-testing capacity, medical supplies and funding to the provinces.
“We have helped strengthen PNG’s testing and surveillance capacity by providing over 20,000 sample collection kits, 15,000 rapid serology tests and four new testing machines to help with diagnosis,” said a statement from the Foreign Affairs department.
More than two million pieces of personal protective equipment for frontline workers and nearly 3,800 quick testing cartridges are also being sent.
“We have provided capacity-building and technical support, both in PNG and through the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, and are supporting NGOs and churches to carry out information campaigns and community resilience activities,” the statement said.