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Papua New Guinea

NZ defence force arrives in PNG

The New Zealand Defence Force has arrived in Papua New Guinea with around 6,000kg of essential supplies to fight the incessant battle in recent months against surging numbers of Covid-19 cases.

Members of the New Zealand team at the Royal New Zealand Air Force base in Auckland before departure to Papua New Guinea. Picture: New Zealand Defence Forces

The deployment follows a request from the PNG government for greater humanitarian and medical support.

The personnel will provide health planning and logistics support to assist their hosts with a Covid-19 response.

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The arrival of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757-2K2 that included hand sanitizer, gloves, safety goggles, face masks, face shields, gowns and sharps containers came just as a spike of cases hit this week.

Numbers had reached an all-time daily high of 896 cases on October 24 while also having an average of 512 daily cases for that previous week, to not one single case occurring on November 18.

Members of the New Zealand team at the Royal New Zealand Air Force base in Auckland before departure to Papua New Guinea. Picture: New Zealand Defence Forces

But just five days since a clean bill of health for the country, a further 1,268 cases were recorded on November 23.

Commander joint forces New Zealand rear admiral, Jim Gilmour, said the defence forces had trained its personnel to use their skills in a wide range of situations and would be assisting PNG for about four weeks to get medical supplies and services “to those who need it most”.

Gilmour also felt it was a “challenging situation” for any country dealing with Covid-19 in their communities despite New Zealand itself escaping any significant surges in the past 18 months of the pandemic.

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