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Pacific Islands

NZ support for PNG health system during COVID-19 surge

Wellington, New Zealand

New Zealand is providing support to Papua New Guinea following a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths, the New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced.

“New Zealand is very concerned by the worsening COVID-19 situation in Papua New Guinea, and have agreed to assist where we can,” she said.

“New Zealand is committed to supporting our Pacific neighbours through these unprecedented times. We need to look beyond our own borders in the fight to eradicate COVID-19.”

“We are providing support to the Government of Papua New Guinea as it identifies and responds to emergency needs created by the pandemic. PPE remains a priority as the health system feels the pressure, so a New Zealand Defence Force flight is scheduled to deliver PPE from Auckland to Port Moresby on Saturday.”

“We are also making funding available to the New Zealand High Commission in Port Moresby to respond to needs on the ground, as requested by partners in Papua New Guinea.”

PPE kits comprising of hand sanitiser, goggles, biohazard bags, Milton sterilising tablets, shoe covers, sharps boxes, infrared thermometers, swabs, gloves, gowns, surgical masks and face shields will be sufficient to treat 1,000 COVID-19 cases.

The support announced today is in addition to the $6 million in COVID-19 related support that New Zealand has provided to Papua New Guinea over the last year, including budget support, medical supplies and equipment. New Zealand has also contributed to the World Health Organisation’s Papua New Guinea office to support its COVID-19 response plan and has supported community-level COVID-19 risk reduction efforts through New Zealand NGOs and their local partners.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Papua New Guinea who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular the whānau of the people who have tragically lost their lives.”

“We remain in close contact with counterparts in the Government of Papua New Guinea and stand ready to assist further as areas for additional support become clear,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

PNG 31 deaths

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea has reported more cases than New Zealand, and more deaths. On 19 March PNG had reported a total of 2479 cases with 31 deaths.

This compares to New Zealand with a total of 2444 cases with 26 deaths, according to the John Hopkins University.