NOOSA - The more infectious, faster moving Delta variant of Covid has been identified for the first time in Papua New Guinea.
The Delta strain is currently proving hard to control after breaking out in Australia’s two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne. It has killed three people so far.
In Port Moresby, a 65 year old ship’s captain is in hospital and six of his crew have tested positive for the disease.
The cargo vessel had arrived in PNG from Indonesia and the Filipino captain became sick while the ship was at sea.
Yesterday PNG has recorded a total of 17,340 cases of Covid with 179 deaths.
Meanwhile Tess Newton Cain, writing in Asia Insights for Griffith University, has observed that, while Australia is focused on its own abysmal Covid vaccine rollout, the impacts on PNG and the Pacific islands have been largely ignored.
“The Morrison government has promised 51 million doses to poorer countries, with a particular focus on the Pacific islands region,” Associate Professor Newton Cain wrote.
“However, as of 9 July, only 620,000 doses have been delivered to Fiji, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa, and Tuvalu.
“The prevalence of the Delta variant in Fiji is proving a major problem for other Pacific island countries, whose populations remain largely unvaccinated.”
Covid vaccines is not the only serious matter on which Australia has been found deficient in its recent actions relating to PNG and the Pacific.
A $3 billion (K7.8 billion) commitment three years ago by prime minister Scott Morrison to combat Chinese influence in the Pacific has not been honoured.
In 2018, Morrison announced what he termed a ‘Pacific Step-Up’ and promised $500 million in grants, $1.5 billion in loans and $1 billion in capital for infrastructure projects.
It has been revealed that only 14 projects have been approved so far and no loan money drawn down.
And an Australian Senate committee was told that only $5.3 million has been disbursed (for planning) and only $200,000 spent (on a scoping study for a project in Palau).