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NZDF personnel among New Zealand assistance to PNG COVID-19 response

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel will provide health planning and logistics support as part of a New Zealand team assisting Papua New Guinea with its COVID-19 response.

16 November, 2021

The three NZDF personnel are part of a New Zealand medical and logistics support team which deployed to Papua New Guinea over the weekend.

The rest of the team is comprised of two doctors, three nurses, two Fire and Emergency NZ logistics staff and a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade who will be based in Bougainville to support the Bougainville Department of Health, as Bougainville case numbers also rise.

The deployment follows a request by the Government of Papua New Guinea for humanitarian and medical support to help the country deal with a surge in cases of COVID-19. 

The team has been deployed for about four weeks.

A New Zealand Army soldier in uniform hands over identification to the Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel before boarding their flight. A member of Fire and Emergency New Zealand prepares to board their flight to Papua New Guinea. They are going through health protocols with a person opposite them. New Zealand Army personnel in uniform walk up the stars towards a Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing aircraft. The sky is grey and it's a darker image.

New Zealand Army and a Fire an Emergency New Zealand personnel leave Base Auckland for Papua New Guinea

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the NZDF trained its personnel to use their skills in a wide range of situations and would be assisting Papua New Guinea with its national response.

The NZDF had deployed an environmental health officer and two logistics personnel to provide support at the Papua New Guinea National Control Centre in Port Moresby.

“They will provide health planning and logistics support at that national level to get medical supplies and services to those who need it most,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said.

“Our environmental health officer will also be able to draw on the expertise of public health specialist Major Naomi Gough, who was deployed to Fiji in June for about a month, to assist Fijian authorities following an outbreak of COVID-19 there.

Pic5 Officials Pic1 Disembark Pic9 Cargo

The RNZAF Boeing aircraft carrying personnel and supplies arrives in Papua New Guinea

“It’s a challenging situation for any country dealing with COVID-19 in the community. Our personnel will be working alongside PNG authorities to support them with their response.”

The New Zealand team was transported to Port Moresby on a Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 on Saturday.

Around 6000kg of essential supplies was transported over on the aircraft including hand sanitiser, gloves, safety goggles, face masks and face shields, gowns and sharps containers.