COVID-19: First Vaccines Arrive In Papua New Guinea

Australian officials carry boxes containing some 8,000 initial doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine following their arrival on board a Royal Australian Air Force plane at the Port Moresby international airport on March 23, 2021, as Papua New Guinea raced to quell a Covid-19 surge overwhelming its fragile health system.
Andrew KUTAN / AFP



Papua New Guinea received its first batch of coronavirus vaccines Tuesday as the country raced to quell a Covid-19 surge overwhelming its fragile health system.

An initial shipment of 8,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine was flown in from neighbouring Australia, earmarked to protect badly hit frontline hospital staff.

Prime Minister James Marape greeted the grey air force C-17 bearing the vaccine, three mobile storage facilities, and a small team of Australian public health specialists at Jacksons International Airport in Port Moresby.

READ ALSO: DR Congo Starts Countdown To End Of Ebola Outbreak

Papua New Guinea survived a year without widespread community transmission, but the impoverished Melanesian nation is now detecting hundreds of cases each day.

Some hospitals have been forced to turn away new patients due to a lack of medical staff, who are testing positive in large numbers.

Australian officials carry boxes containing some 8,000 initial doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine following their arrival on board a Royal Australian Air Force plane at the Port Moresby international airport on March 23, 2021,


With the total number of cases nationwide tripling in the past month alone, authorities at the weekend approved a series of measures, including shutting schools and bars and barring non-essential movement.

Concerned that widespread transmission could destabilise its neighbour, Australia has urged AstraZeneca to divert one million more doses bought by Canberra to Papua New Guinea as soon as possible.

Papua New Guinea Sees Jump In Coronavirus Cases

Doctors (Front and Rear L) from MEDU organization (Doctors for Human Rights) perform health checks at the Tiburtina train station on November 25, 2020 in Rome, as part of a MEDU mobile team series of free health checks. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)



Papua New Guinea reported on Friday its largest daily jump in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with infections spreading to remote regions with poor health infrastructure.

A total of 89 new cases were detected on Thursday, according to the country’s coronavirus task force, taking the total to 1,228.

“This is the highest number of cases reported in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic,” said spokesman Dominic Kakas.

While Papua New Guinea appears to have avoided the worst of the pandemic, there are concerns about clusters in several provinces and a lack of widespread testing.

Only 50,000 Covid-19 tests have been carried out in the nation of some nine million since the pandemic began, and the World Health Organisation has said that “the number of confirmed cases tends to be higher in provinces which report doing more testing”.

The largest number of cases in the last year has been found in the capital Port Moresby, but now several more remote regions with limited public health facilities are trying to get outbreaks under control.

Seventy-five of the new cases were reported in West Sepik on the border with the Indonesian province of West Papua, and cases were also found on the islands of New Britain and Bougainville.

Alex Maha, a top government doctor for the islands, said travellers from west New Britain crossing to the east are now being screened for symptoms and an isolation facility has been set up in the main town of Kokopo.

Doctor and Nonga General Hospital CEO Ako Yap said one person developed symptoms after attending a church gathering last week. Contact tracing was due to start Friday.

Armed Men Hijack Plane, Steal Baggage In Papua New Guinea



A charter airline in Papua New Guinea on Tuesday said armed men hijacked one of its planes, forced the pilot to fly to an unused airstrip before making off with the cargo.

Tropicair told AFP that eight armed men approached the plan as it was refueling in Gasmata, on the island of New Britain and forced him to take off.

A company spokesman said there were no other passengers on board.

“Upon arrival at the airstrip, the armed men stole the baggage and cargo that was on board the aircraft and fled the area,” Matthew Brutnall said.

“The Captain was not injured during this event and the aircraft was not damaged” and has since been returned to Port Moresby.

The Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary confirmed they are now investigating the incident.


Falconets To Play Confluence Queens In Test Match

Falconets To Play Confluence QueensNigeria’s U-20 women team will take on Nigeria Women Premier League side, Confluence Queens in a test match on Wednesday.

Peter Dedevbo’s side are preparing for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup which kicks off on November 13 in Papua New Guinea.

Dedevbo is confident the friendly match against Shola Adewuyi’s side at the Kogi Confluence Stadium would help strengthen the Falconets.

From the 28 players in camp, the Delta Queens tactician is expected to draw up his final squad list in few days following the arrival of Chiwendu Ihezuo and Aminat Yakubu.

Sixteen countries will participate at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup with a total of 32 games expected to be played.

The Falconets are placed in Group B with Spain, Canada and Japan as their co-contenders.

Their first match is against the Japanese on November 13. They play against Canada on November 16 while they would face the Spaniards on November 20.

The competition is expected to be concluded on Saturday, December 3, 2016.

Refugees Face Terrible Conditions In Australia Centres

Australia, refugeesSeveral asylum seekers are being driven to attempt suicide in order to escape the terrible conditions they face in Australian detention centers.

This is according to human rights group, Amnesty International.

Under Australia’s tough immigration policy, refugees and asylum seekers who are caught trying to enter the country by boat, are sent to detention centers in Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

The 410 refugees have been kept under indefinite detention as they are no longer eligible for resettlement in Australia. Some even claim they have been detained for several years.

Amnesty International has found that as much as 15% of the refugee population on Nauru had either attempted suicide or had thoughts about harming themselves.

Amnesty adds to the recent criticism of Australia’s immigration policy from human rights groups and comes just a few weeks after the United Nations said Nauru was failing to protect children.

FIFA U-20 World Cup: Falconets Coach Warns Against Distracting Players

falconetsThe Nigeria U-20 women’s national team coach, Peter Dedevbo, has stressed the need for coaches whose players are in the national team to allow players concentrate in camp ahead of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea.

In an interview with Channels Television in Abuja shortly after the team’s training session, Coach Dedevbo said no player would be allowed to leave the camp as from next week.

He said the decision was due to the limited time he had to work with the girls.

The Falconets’ camp for the FIFA U-20 women’s world cup in Papua New Guinea opened last weekend in Abuja.

But the coach revealed that coaches have been bombarding the camp with request for the release of players to feature for their club sides.

Adequate preparation of players ahead of any tournament has been re-emphasised after Nigeria’s Under-17 female side crashed out of the FIFA U-17 world cup held in Jordan.

Falconets head coach, Bala Nikyu, blamed the early exit of his players from the FIFA U-17 world cup on inexperience.

Coach Nikyu told Channels Television that aside three players who featured at the 2014 edition of the tournament in Costa Rica all the girls featured at the championships in Jordan for the first time.

Australia To Close Manus Island Asylum Centre

Migrant Crisis, australia, Papua New Guinea, png, Manus Island Asylum CentreAustralia says it has agreed to close a controversial asylum seeker detention centre in Papua, New Guinea (PNG).

This is according to the PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’neill who met Australia’s Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, in Port Moresby on Wednesday.

“Both Papua New Guinea and Australia are in agreement that the center is to be closed,” PNG Prime Minister said in a statement.

“A series of options are being advanced and implemented. It is important that this process is not rushed out but carried out in a careful manner.”

Meanwhile Dutton in his statement said: “It has been the longstanding position of this government to work with PNG to close Manus and support those people as they transit into PNG or return to their country of origin.

“Our position, confirmed again today with PNG, is that no one from Manus Island Regional Processing Centre will ever be settled in Australia”.

PNG’s Supreme Court found in April that detaining asylum seekers and refugees at the centre was unconstitutional.

However, Mr O’neill says the Manus Regional Processing Centre, which currently houses 854 men, would not close immediately.

Australia sends asylum seekers who arrive in the country by boat to offshore detention centres in Manus Island and the pacific nation of Nauru.

Nigeria Urges ACP To Focus On Trade, Investment And Technology

Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria, ACPNigeria has urged the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) to focus its future around areas of comparative advantage including trade, investment and technology.

The Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, made the appeal on Wednesday while representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the just concluded ACP Summit of Heads of States in Papua, New Guinea.

While the ACP Group has done well, “I would like to emphasise the point that the Federal Government of Nigeria supports the view that the ACP should not stretch itself further but rather, focus on areas of comparative advantage”, he said.

Professor Osinbajo listed the three areas which he described as the ‘future pillars’ for the group to include: Trade and Investment, Government Development Cooperation through Technology, as well as Political Dialogue and Advocacy.

Considering the challenges that most countries of the ACP face, he stressed the need to focus on development cooperation and building capacity in trade and investment with science and technology.

Cutting Edge Of Technology
In the area of technology, the Vice President while presenting Nigeria’s statement at the summit said efforts should be focused on job creation.

He added that young people should be encouraged to go into areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and education.

Professor Osinbajo emphasised that technology in particular areas such as computer application, programming, lighting and software applications amongst others should be explored to engage young people in ACP countries to ensure that they were in the cutting edge of technology.

Responding to the report on the future of the ACP, which was presented to the summit by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), led by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Vice President acknowledged the important suggestions and recommendations in the report and assured the summit of Nigeria’s continued support.

He also promised that Nigeria would continue its active engagement with and in the group while he described the report of the EPG as excellent, saying that it had set the tone for future negotiations.

Vice President Osinbajo described the meeting as ‘a crucial one, endeavouring to re-position the ACP towards 2020 and beyond’, when the strategic relationship between the ACP and the European Union is expected to move to a new level.

The ACP is an organisation formed in 1975 with the Cotonou Agreement, and composed of 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific states.

According to the Vice President, since the creation of the ACP, there had been so many changes and dynamics, necessitating the need to re-strategise.

Regarding the expiration of the agreement in 2020, Professor Osinbajo stated that the countries seemed to have made up their minds to continue to work together beyond 2020, noting that the most important thing is how the ACP would engage with the European Union, as the organisations are vastly different from what they were in 1975.

Nigeria Qualify For 2016 FIFA U-20 Women World Cup

falconets-NigeriaNigeria’s Falconets have qualified for the 2016 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, following a 1-0 victory over South Africa on Sunday.

Nigeria dominated the early exchanges and it was no surprise when striker, Chinwendu Ihezuo, scored from a pull-out by defender Mary Ologbosere in the 16th minute, to increase the Falconets’ aggregate advantage to 3-1.

The Falconets had secured a 2-1 victory against the South African side in the first leg of the game in Nigeria.

In the Sunday game, South Africa continued to fight, but the Falconets held on till the end, and will be one of Africa’s two flag bearers at 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua, New Guinea.

Nigeria have always qualified for the tournament since its inception, finishing as runners up in 2010 and 2014.

Falconets To Face South Africa In Final U-20 World Cup Qualifier

Falconets To Face South Africa In Final U-20 World Cup QualifierThe National U-20 women team, also known as the Falconets, will face South Africa in the final round of the African qualifying series for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

The Falconets advanced at the weekend following a 4-1 aggregate win against their counterparts from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Similarly, their South African opponents beat Zambia 3-2 on aggregate to also advance to the final round of the competition.

Nigeria will host the first leg on October 24, while the return leg will be played two weeks later in South Africa.

All Asian, Oceania and European teams including the host country have qualified for the tournament.

Glasgow 2014: Chika Amalaha Suspended For Failing Drugs Test

Nigeria's gold medallist Chika AmalahaNigerian gold medallist, Chika Amalaha, has been provisionally suspended from the Commonwealth Games for failing a drugs test.

The 16-year-old won weightlifting gold with a combined total of 196kg in the women’s 53kg category.

Her ‘A’ sample was found to contain both amiloride and hydrochlorothiazide, which are both prohibited as diuretics and masking agents. Amalaha will now have a ‘B’ sample tested on Wednesday.

The Commonwealth Games Federation Chief Executive, Mike Hooper, said: “We have issued a formal notice of disclosure to an athlete following an adverse analytical finding as a consequence of an in-competition test. That athlete is Nigerian weightlifter Chika Amalaha who was tested on July 25th. That athlete has now been suspended from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.”

Hooper added that “the substances are diuretics and masking agents. In general terms, these substances are on the prohibited list for two reasons – firstly in weight category sports they can be used to unfairly aid weight loss … and secondly, their use has been reported in attempts to mask the presence in the body of other prohibited substances.

“The relevant processes, as detailed in our anti-doping standard for the Games, are now being followed and Ms Amalaha has pursued her right to have her B sample tested. This will take place at an accredited laboratory in London tomorrow, 30 July. Upon receipt of those results the process will continue.”

Amalaha won gold last Friday, as Dika Toua took silver to secure Papua New Guinea’s first medal of Glasgow 2014, with India’s Santoshi Matsa winning bronze.