Australia donate 8,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Papua New Guinea

Australia says it will donate 8,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Papua New Guinea and will pay for one million additional doses as the island fights against an outbreak of the coronavirus.

An injection is administered to a person’s shoulder.
The Covid-19 doses will be sent for front-line workers and residents of the villages that border Australia. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN, March 17 (ANA) – Australia aims to donate 8,000 AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and will pay for one million additional doses as the island fights against an outbreak of the coronavirus.

According to the Guardian, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday that the doses are intended for front-line workers and residents of the “treaty villages”. The package will also include critical care equipment, including ventilators, masks and gloves.

“They’re our family, they’re our friends, they’re our neighbours,” said Morrison.

“This is in Australia’s interests and it is in our region’s interests and it’s incumbent on us as Australians both to secure the health of our own citizens but equally our PNG family who are so dear to us,” he said.

On Monday, ABC News broadcast network reported that PNG’s infection rate approached one in every three or four people. The islands’ latest numbers show 2,351 cases and 26 deaths, with 50,000 tests being carried out.

The island nation has a population of nine million. Due to the lack of protective equipment, hundreds of doctors and nurses on the front line have been infected.

“The number is quite staggering, if we don’t do (a) corrective response to this, our health system will be clogged and we won’t be able to sustain it,” Prime Minister James Marape told journalists on Monday.

“While waiting on the bigger supply of vaccines to come in, we need to keep our health workers and defend them from being exposed to Covid-19,” he said.

Marape further urged residents to remain in their provinces and in their villages and districts to help curb the spread of the virus.

– African News Agency (ANA); Edited by Yaron Blecher

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