World News

Australia sends medical team to Papua New Guinea as coronavirus cases rise

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia said on Tuesday it was sending a medical team to help Papua New Guinea fight an outbreak of coronavirus after the neighbouring country experienced a rise in infections.

The Pacific nation, which had escaped the infection levels of its neighbours since the crisis escalated in March, has recorded an increase in new cases in the past week, according to data analysis firm Worldometer.

There were 62 confirmed virus cases as of late Tuesday, up from just eight infections 11 days ago.

After PNG asked for assistance, Australia arranged to send a team of medical and crisis response staff to the capital Port Moresby, Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Birmingham said.

The Australian team would help with laboratories, case management, infection control, triage and emergency management and public health, he added.

“The government is planning for a further deployment in consultation with the government of Papua New Guinea and subject to domestic considerations and results of the on ground assessment,” the statement said.

A day earlier, PNG halted entry for travellers, except those arriving by air, in an effort to tighten curbs against coronavirus infections.

Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Jacqueline Wong