World Vision Australia (WVA) has welcomed the Government’s assistance package to Papua New Guinea in the face of an increasingly dire COVID-19 outbreak across the country.
CEO Daniel Wordsworth said WVA had been speaking with the Australian Government and partner countries across the Pacific since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We are deeply concerned about the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases. From only a handful of cases in January and February, we have seen an alarming spike in March,” said Mr Wordsworth.
World Vision is the largest NGO operating in Papua New Guinea and has an extensive footprint across the country, including the most remote and difficult-to-reach areas.
“We have been working with our National Offices in Papua New Guinea and across the Pacific since the start of the pandemic to respond to immediate needs in-country through our existing programming.
“Our projects in-country have already pivoted and adapted to respond to the crisis, since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020,” Mr Wordsworth said. “We are speaking with the Australian Government to determine how World Vision’s partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can have greatest effect with the intimate and long-standing relationships with the communities we serve.
“Of great concern are the low testing rates. As of the weekend, we understand there have been 55,000 tests conducted since the start of the pandemic. For context, at the height of the third wave in Victoria last year, we were conducting between 20,000 and 40,000 tests a day.
“If COVID is not eradicated in our region, indeed worldwide, it will not be eradicated here either. The longer the pandemic continues, the more likely variants and mutations of the virus will develop, much like what we have seen already in South Africa, Brazil and UK – with devastating consequences.
“Australia understands that this is simply one of our responsibilities. As an advanced country which has weathered the COVID pandemic so well – and a generous country – it is logical for us to step up and do the right thing,” said Mr Wordsworth.