New Zealand team deployed to Papua New Guinea to support COVID-19 response

Aotearoa New Zealand is sending a medical and logistics support team and essential supplies to assist Papua New Guinea with its COVID-19 crisis, Associate Foreign Minister Aupito William Sio announced today.

The Government of Papua New Guinea formally requested humanitarian and medical support from partner governments to respond to the health crisis, with rising case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths due to the current Delta surge.

“We are deeply saddened by the increasing loss of lives in Papua New Guinea due to the pandemic,” Aupito William Sio said.

“New Zealand remains committed to supporting our Pacific neighbours to respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. By working closely with our partners in the region, we can make a tangible contribution to COVID-19 resilience,” Aupito William Sio said.

A logistics component comprising two New Zealand Defence Force logisticians and a New Zealand Defence Force Environmental Health Officer will support the Papua New Guinea National Control Centre in Port Moresby. A clinical component comprising two doctors and three nurses from private company Respond Global, two Fire and Emergency New Zealand logisticians and a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be based in Bougainville to support the Bougainville Department of Health.

Since the first COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, New Zealand has provided over $14 million in COVID-19 related support to Papua New Guinea. This support has included personal protective equipment for health personnel, procurement of medical equipment for a new COVID-19 field hospital, supporting transportation of COVID-19 supplies to remote areas, and funding United Nations and non-government organisations’ response efforts.

“Most of the team departed this morning on a New Zealand Defence Force aircraft and will be based in Papua New Guinea for approximately one month,” Aupito William Sio said.