Australia boosts assistance for Papua New Guinea’s COVID-19 response

  • Joint media release with:

Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Women

09 April 2021

Australia is working closely with the Government of Papua New Guinea to support its COVID-19 response, deploying a second team of health and medical specialists.

An Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) of 17 specialists will depart on a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flight today, to work with PNG’s National Control Centre for COVID-19 and provide supplementary expert advice to local health authorities.

Australia has also procured an additional 40,000 GeneXpert rapid testing cartridges for PNG’s COVID-19 response, with 20,000 to be delivered to PNG next week.

We are standing by our neighbour as they face these challenges, to save lives in PNG and to safeguard the health security of our region. As we work through global vaccine issues, we will continue to work with PNG to roll out vaccines in response to the priorities of the PNG Government.

The AUSMAT team will operate primarily from Port Moresby General Hospital and will:

  • support Port Moresby General Hospital to establish a hospital emergency operations centre;
  • strengthen capacity to support COVID-19 patients in critical care;
  • establish a separate respiratory triage and initial treatment area;
  • work with the National Control Centre for COVID-19, the National Department of Health, and the World Health Organization; and
  • provide specialist support to the PNG authorities in responding to the upsurge of COVID-19 transmission in both central and provincial areas.

The team includes clinical specialists to fill most pressing health workforce needs identified by the Government of Papua New Guinea and recommendations by the initial AUSMAT on the ground since 23 March.

The RAAF flight transporting the team will also carry additional medical supplies and infrastructure to support the response, including:

  • large tents, tables, chairs and stretchers;
  • refrigerators, eskies and coolers to store vaccines at an appropriate temperature;
  • medical devices such as aspirators, defibrillators and vital signs monitors; and
  • further medical equipment for St John Ambulance PNG.

Since 13 March, five RAAF flights and four commercial flights have delivered 8,480 vaccines and related consumables, PPE, temporary triaging facilities, rapid COVID tests, medical equipment, and an ambulance for St John Ambulance PNG.

We will continue to work closely with the Government of Papua New Guinea during this challenging time and stand ready to provide further assistance. 

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