Australia is to provide 8,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Papua New Guinea as the island nation struggles with an outbreak of coronavirus.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the doses would be sent immediately, along with other critical care equipment.
Papua New Guinea warned its infection rate was approaching one in every three or four people. The country’s fragile healthcare system is under huge strain.
Officially, there are 1,400 active cases in the country, but the true number is thought to be much higher. Testing has been an issue for the island nation. As of 10 March, only 50,000 tests had been carried out in a country with a population of nine million.
However, Australian officials says that of the areas tested in the past week, almost half of the results had come back positive, including many healthcare workers.
Port Moresby Hospital’s Covid-19 isolation ward is reportedly full and additional beds are filling up rapidly. Dozens of medical workers have also tested positive for Covid, and more than half of the nation’s total of 2,269 cases have been reported in the past month alone.