The first vaccines arrive in Papua, facing an epidemic outbreak

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Port Moresby | Papua New Guinea received its first batch of coronavirus vaccines on Tuesday, as the country faces a serious outbreak that threatens its fragile health system.

Eight thousand doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have arrived from neighboring Australia, and should go as a priority to hospital staff.

Prime Minister James Marape arrived at Jacksons International Airport to welcome the device carrying the vials, three mobile storage units and a small Australian health team.

Papua New Guinea had managed to prevent the disease from spreading too far for a year, but is now registering several hundred new cases a day.

Some hospitals have been forced to turn away patients for lack of sufficient staff, who have been particularly affected by this epidemic outbreak.

Faced with the tripling in one month of the number of cases recorded throughout the country, the authorities took a series of measures this week such as the closure of schools and bars, as well as the ban on non-essential travel.

For its part, Australia asked AstraZeneca not to send it the million doses it had purchased, but rather to send them to Port Moresby. It is not known when these doses will arrive in Papua New Guinea.