Wednesday, 17 March 2021
Questions without Notice
Papua New Guinea: COVID-19
I thank Senator McDonald for her very important question. As the Prime Minister and I announced this morning, Australia is standing with Papua New Guinea as they respond to a serious and widespread outbreak in COVID cases. The Prime Minister, the Minister for International Development and the Pacific and I, and our High Commissioner in Port Moresby, have been in regular contact with our Papua New Guinea colleagues and the Papua New Guinea government on how we can partner to assist in the response effort. There have been 2,479 cases officially reported, which is a surge of over 1,180 since 27 February. While the outbreak is concentrated in Port Moresby, there are cases in provinces across Papua New Guinea and, sadly, there have been 31 recorded deaths.
Australia has responded to our nearest neighbour in our Pacific family through the pivot of our aid program under our Partnerships for Recovery and our COVID-19 response plans. The work that we've announced today is in strong partnership with Papua New Guinea, based on their priorities and their needs. I noted earlier that our High Commissioner has been working closely with the Papua New Guinea government to ensure our support is well targeted to Papua New Guinea's needs. Indeed, his team are also part of Papua New Guinea's national COVID-19 technical working group. Over the last week, Australia has assisted to increase the number of beds available for COVID patients and funded St John Ambulance PNG, to increase its capacity. That's for patient transport, for COVID testing and for PPE distribution to clinics. Australia has also added ballast to Papua New Guinea's National Control Centre for COVID-19. From our own experience we know that communications, risk and quarantine management are absolutely critical. We'll work closely with our partners in Papua New Guinea, particularly the health authorities and the National Control Centre for COVID-19, in addressing this crisis.