COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea

  • Statement
  • Senator The Hon Simon Birmingham, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health
  • The Hon Alex Hawke MP, Minister for International Development and the Pacific

Australia is sending an AUSMAT medical team to Papua New Guinea to support our friend and neighbour as it manages a concerning rise in COVID-19 cases in recent days.

We welcome the swift response of Prime Minister Marape and his Government, which has introduced a number of significant restrictions and is conducting testing, case investigation and contact tracing.

In response to PNG’s request for international assistance, made in conjunction with the World Health Organization, Australia is sending a forward Australian Medical Assistance 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, triage and emergency management, and public health.

The team will follow PNG’s quarantine requirements.

The Government is planning for a further deployment in consultation with the Government of Papua New Guinea and subject to domestic considerations and results of the on ground assessment. 

As Papua New Guinea’s largest development partner, Australia has reprioritised a portion of our development program funding to provide a package of COVID-19 support, which includes support for medical supplies, funding to provinces to prepare for COVID-19 and laboratory-testing capacity. 

We have helped strengthen PNG’s testing and surveillance capacity by providing over 20,000 sample collection kits, 15,000 rapid serology tests, four new Polymerase Chain Reaction testing machines to help with diagnosis, over two million pieces of personal protective equipment for frontline workers and nearly 3,800 GeneXpert cartridges that allow quick testing. Over 3000 tests have also been conducted in Australia.

We have provided capacity-building and technical support, both in-country and through the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, and are supporting NGOs and churches to carry out information campaigns and community resilience activities.

Australia has been standing with the region during this challenging time, working in partnership with Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste to protect their communities from COVID-19.  We will continue to do so.

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