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(PAPUA NEW GUINEA) JUST IN: An Australian company has been awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to redevelop its new main naval base on Manus Island #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.16: The head of Papua New Guinea’s Defence Force, Major General Gilbert Toropo, said the upgrade would significantly improve PNG’s maritime security capabilities:

PNG: Australian Defence Force to fund $175 million major upgrade for Papua New Guinea’s naval base on Manus Island: Clough was announced as the head contractor for the Lombrum Naval Base upgrade, which is expected to cost up to $175 million.

ARN at Lombrum
Australian troops will use the facility during joint training exercises with the PNGDF.(Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence: Sgt W. Guthrie)

“Redevelopment and rehabilitation of Lombrum Naval Base will really set the foundation for our effective maritime patrols,” he said.

Major General Toropo said China’s growing presence in the region presented “a challenge” for PNG.

US navy evacuated, COVID-19 blamed for delays

An older man speaks to two seated men and three standing men, gathered around a plastic table outside in shade.
US navy personnel have been stationed on Manus Island to assist with the upgrade of the Lombrum Naval Base.(Supplied: Bab Korup)

Construction was due to start this month, but Major General Toropo said COVID-19 had caused delays.

He said skilled technicians had been unable to travel to PNG from overseas and construction material supply chains had been disrupted.

About 20 US navy engineers involved in the project had also been evacuated from Manus due to an outbreak of the virus.

On Sunday, the province had recorded a total of 439 cases of the virus.

“It’s something we have no control over,” Major General Toropo said.

Economy ‘at its lowest’ in wake of offshore processing

Meanwhile, locals in Manus are anxious for construction works to commence, saying they desperately need employment as there must be life after Manus Island after six years:

Bab Korup, who runs a popular community Facebook page, said the island’s economy was suffering enormously in the wake of Australia’s offshore processing regime.

Under Australia’s controversial immigration policy, more than a thousand refugees and asylum seekers were sent to regional processing centres on Manus Island, which were reopened in 2012.

But in late 2019, the processing centres on Manus were effectively closed and remaining refugees were transferred to PNG’s capital, Port Moresby.

Mr Korup said about 3,000 locals employed through the processing centres had lost work as a result.

“Our economy is at its lowest point … there are no jobs on the island,” he said.

He called on Australia to create long-term employment opportunities on Manus and invest in schools and services.

“We’ve had an increase in lawlessness on the island because of frustration that our young people can find jobs,” he said.

“We’ve had an increase in domestic problems, because families can hardly keep the family unit together because of lack of cash problems.”

Naval base brings promise of local jobs

A person kayaks past a larger vessel moored on calm, turquios waters at a long jetty with palm tress behind.
The Australian Defence Force is funding a $175m upgrade of the Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island.(Supplied: Bab Korup)

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) said the Lombrum Naval Base upgrade would create about 200 local jobs in Manus and 350 in total across PNG.

Market stallholder Veronica Puto said she welcomed the investment, hoping it would provide an economic boost.

Ms Puto was subcontracted to supply food to the refugee processing centres but lost work when the centres closed.

“There is no cash flow in Manus,” she said.

She said jobs from the naval base upgrade must be distributed fairly across the community, and not given solely to landowners from the Lombrum area.

Upgrade to boost military presence on Manus Island

Major General Toropo said construction would begin “as quickly as possible” but did not set a firm date after Chinese ships map waters near PNG as US and Australia upgrade Manus base

Construction company Clough also declined to comment, saying it did not have approval from the ADF to speak about the project.

Announced in 2018, the upgrade includes an extension of the current wharf facility, which was built by the US navy during World War II.

It also includes improvements to the island’s road and electricity network, and new accommodation and training facilities.

Major General Toropo said it would allow PNG to double the number of military personnel on Manus to 400.

The base will be owned and run by the PNGDF but Australian troops will also be able to use the facility for joint training exercises and mentoring programs.

Major General Toropo said Australia and PNG had a “strong” and “enduring” military partnership.

“If we have to prevent any illegal activities … I think it is that strong partnership that will ensure that our region is safe,” he said.Loading form…

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: Jun.16: 2021:

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(AUSTRALIA) #Coronavirus Report: Trade minister Dan Tehan says the European Union will not block the export of 1 million AstraZeneca #COVID19 vaccines to Papua New Guinea #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – Apr.23: Australian trade minister Dan Tehan says the European Union will not block the export of 1 million AstraZeneca #COVID19 vaccines to Papua New Guinea:

#CoronavirusNewsDesk – Europe won’t block AstraZeneca vaccine shipment to PNG, Trade Minister says: In March, the European Commission blocked a shipment of 250,000 vaccines bound for Australia because, it said, AstraZeneca had failed to honour its contracts in Europe.

updated 14m ago

AstraZeneca vaccines boxes sit in a fridge.
Hundreds of thousands of doses of the vaccine bound for Australia were blocked by the EU in March.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

The federal government wrote to the European Commission and asked that 1 million of the 3.1 million doses Australia ordered be diverted to Papua New Guinea, which is struggling to contain #COVID19.

Mr Tehan said he had two “productive” meetings with EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis in Brussels and was told there would be “no issues whatsoever” with that request.

“There will be no problems with AstraZeneca exporting those million doses to PNG,” he said.

“I thanked him for those reassurances.”

Mr Tehan said the EU commission had also written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison assuring him there will be no blockages.

Australia will now rely more heavily on Pfizer vaccines, having decided the AstraZeneca product should not be used on people under the age of 50, due to a slightly increased risk of blood clots.

Mr Tehan said there was no suggestion the EU would block the exports of Pfizer vaccines.

“So far Pfizer has honoured every contract that it’s had with Australia,” he said.

“We see no reason going forward why those contracts wouldn’t continue to be honoured.”

UK apology over ‘uncomfortable chair’ article

Mr Tehan is hoping to secure a free trade deal with the United Kingdom.

Prior to his arrival, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported his counterpart, Liz Truss, was planning to seat him in an “uncomfortable chair” to gain an upper hand in negotiations.

It also quoted sources calling Mr Tehan “inexperienced”.

Mr Tehan said Ms Truss called him prior to their negotiations to apologise.

“She expressed her sincere apologies for the article and I accepted those apologies,” he said.

“It was very gracious of her to do so.”

Mr Tehan said he wasn’t fazed by the comments.

A man in a suit sits on a wooden chair at a wooden table in a meeting room.
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan sat in a wooden chair during his meeting with UK trade officials in London.(ABC News/Pool)

“I used to play Australian rules football as a young man and I’ve been knocked out on the football field,” he said.

“So, the idea of sitting in an uncomfortable chair for a couple of hours, I found quite quaint.

“As I said to Liz, the most important thing is that we just get on with negotiations and put the interests of both out countries first.

“I haven’t brought a cushion with me.”

Having left the European Union, the UK is especially keen to sign free trade agreements with countries like Australia.

And Australia wants to secure access for Australian farmers, who currently face tariffs and quotas which limit their ability to export products like meat and dairy to the UK.

The UK government has previously expressed concern about some Australian agricultural standards, including hormone-treated beef.

Mr Tehan said he was confident the UK would agree that Australian farming practices were “absolutely fit and appropriate”.

“We’ve got the best, safest food in the world,” he said.

“It’s clean and green.

“We will be able to offer the most first-class product to British consumers.”

During two days of talks in London, the ministers will also discuss “greater mobility” for professionals like lawyers, architects, engineers and accountants.

It could potentially allow them to move more freely between countries and have better recognition of their skills.

However, Mr Tehan declined to provide specifics about what Australia was seeking.

“Some of it is sensitive. We have to build a level of trust,” he said.

“I’m very, very confident we’re going to make very good progress over the next couple of days.”

#AceHealthDesk report …….Published: Apr.23: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com


(PAPUA NEW GUINEA) JUST IN: One of PNG’S leading doctors says Australia’s promise to share #COVID19 vaccine doses is of vital importance #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – Mar.18: One of Papua New Guinea’s leading doctors says Australia’s promise to share #COVID19 vaccine doses is of vital importance.

#Coronavirus News Desk says that the PNG welcomes Australia’s promise of 8,000 #COVID19 vaccine doses as infections increase at ‘alarming’ rate he was in a hotel quarantine in Cairns, the 74-year-old obstetrician is hoping to get vaccinated in Australia before returning to work in Port Moresby: Professor Mola welcomed Wednesday’s announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that Australia would share 8,000 vaccine doses and provide a range of other health supplies’

‘The #COVID19 emergency in PNG also poses a threat to Australia, especially in the Torres Strait, where people are living only kilometres from the PNG mainland’

updated 2h ago

Dozens of PNG healthcare workers stand in scrubs, face shields and masks
PNG’s health workers are rapidly becoming infected, obstetrician Glen Mola says.(Supplied: WHO Papua New Guinea)

“We desperately need the vaccine because our health workers are being infected at an alarming rate,” Glen Mola told 7.30.

He said 8 per cent of pregnant women coming into his Port Moresby maternity unit were testing positive for COVID-19 and he was also rapidly losing staff.

“We’re losing about 10 midwives, doctors, nurses every week, and 10 is about 5 per cent of our workforce,” he said.

“So within a month or two, we’ll be down to 50 per cent staffing levels and we won’t be able to maintain the service.

“The COVID-19 ward at Port Moresby General [Hospital] is getting full very quickly and now medical wards are being taken over by COVID patients.”RECAP: Look back on the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

But he warned PNG was not out of the woods yet, and frontline health workers would need a second vaccine dose 12 weeks after their first.

“Even if we get the vaccine this week, it will only start producing immunity in two or three weeks’ time,” he told 7.30. 

Caucasian man sitting down with Papua New Guinean local women.
Obstetrician Glen Mola says 8 per cent of pregnant women come into his Port Moresby maternity unit testing positive to COVID-19.(Supplied: Glen Mola )

Brendan Crabb from the Burnet Institute warned the pandemic in PNG already appeared to be getting out of control.

“In all likelihood, we have thousands of cases there at the moment, and that means in a week or two it will be tens, if not hundreds, of thousands,” he said. 

“You saw how much difficulty developed countries such as the US and the UK have dealing with their COVID surges.

“Can you imagine trying to do that in a health system only 1 per cent as well equipped?”

Misinformation a major concern in PNG 

It’s a difficult time for PNG expatriate Olive Tau Davis, who now lives in Cairns but has family in Port Moresby.

“Back home, it’s a village environment where socialising is very much part of the community life, so there is no such thing as social distancing,” she said.

Older woman with black glasses and floral shirt looks at camera.
PNG expatriate Olive Tau Davis is concerned about the spread of coronavirus in her homeland.(ABC News: Marian Faa)

“And knowing that hospitals in PNG are not well resourced, it’s a huge concern.

“At the same time, there are Papua New Guineans who think that because of their Christian beliefs that they will be OK. There are others who think that COVID is a hoax.”

Professor Crabb said he was also concerned about the spread of misinformation about COVID-19.

“[It] is rife there. It’s big here, but it’s an even bigger problem in PNG,” he said. 

Queensland Health has fast-tracked its vaccination program in the three most northern Torres Strait islands: Saibai, Boigu and Dauan.

Female police officer gets vaccinated by female nurse.
Senior Constable Tonia Bradford is vaccinated by nurse Vikki Watkin.(Supplied: Queensland Health)

Speaking from Saibai island, the Torres and Cape Health Service northern director Marlow Coates said the community was responding well.

“[There’s a] very positive response from the community. They’re very aware of the risk and the risk of coronavirus to themselves and their families, and there’s a real community feel and spirit about protecting one another,” he said.

“We’re seeing that now with good numbers coming into the clinic.”

Man gets a vaccine from a female nurse.
Queensland Health has fast-tracked its vaccination program on Saibai, Boigu and Dauan islands.(Supplied: Queensland Health)

These Torres Strait islands are closest to PNG’s western province — a remote region with no evidence of COVID-19 testing.

Dr Coates said it was difficult to tell whether coronavirus has reached the province.

“It’s very difficult to give a straight answer to that,” he said.

“How much coronavirus is or may be in the western province is a bit of an unknown.”

Watch the full story on 7.30 tonight on ABC TV and iview.

#AceHealthDesk report ……..Published: Mar.18: 2021:

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports by and all our posts, also links can be found at here for Twitter and Live Feeds and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

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