Australia is taking drastic action to assist Papua New Guinea with a major outbreak of coronavirus there, which now threatens Far North Queensland communities.
Around 50 per cent of the population is believed to have been infected, with much of the spread occurring over the last month.
The outbreak began to take a toll on Queensland Health last week as more and more infected travellers returned to north Cairns.
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has now announced a range of measures to both help Papua New Guinea, and to limit Queensland and Australia’s risk.
From midnight tonight, passenger flights from PNG into Cairns will be suspended for at least a fortnight, charter flights will also be suspended except for medevac and critical flights.
Passenger caps will be limited in flights from Port Moresby into Brisbane, while all outbound travel exemptions from Australia to Papua New Guinea will be suspended except for essential and critical workers including humanitarian and medevac work.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says this does not include FIFO work.
Australia is also looking to change our 96-hour pre-departure screening down to 24-hour pre-departure screening.
We’re also gifting PNG a heap of essential PPE equipment to help them manage the treatment of infections. That includes 1 million surgical masks,
In the meantime, we’re sending 8,000 of our own vaccine doses to get frontline health workers protected immediately.