PNG COVID-19 crisis worsens

As more information comes in from provinces across Papua New Guinea, a picture is building of the true state of the current wave of COVID-19 delta variant infections.

Provincial health authorities are reporting caseloads that are beyond their capacity and a rising death toll that is overwhelming morgues and funeral services.

The PNG government has asked the WHO to put out a call for international assistance in the form of medical personnel. There are also shortages of critical supplies, including oxygen. An AUSMAT team has arrived in PNG during the last few days and further teams are expected in the next little while.

There is some good news in that the numbers of people coming forward to be vaccinated looks to be increasing. The coordinator at the Vision City site in Port Moresby reported that 400 people had been vaccinated during one day last week.

World Bank report on Marshall Islands highlights vulnerability

A recent report compiled by the World Bank has highlighted just how vulnerable the Marshall Islands is to the impacts of projected sea level rise. The report estimates that up to 40% of the infrastructure in the country’s capital Majuro could be permanently affected if what is currently predicted in terms of sea level rise comes to pass.

The report also highlights the significance for sea level rise in terms of state sovereignty, raising the issue of how low-lying countries can continue as nation states if their landmasses are totally inundated.

Recently the Pacific Islands Forum leaders issued a Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-related Sea-Level Rise. It draws attention to the threat to low-lying countries’ maritime zones and resources and the need for international law to assist in preserving them.

By-elections in Samoa

The political onslaught that is Samoa in 2021 is not yet over. Nearly 17,000 people will return to the polls at the end of November. They will vote in seven by-elections. These are seats that are to be recontested further to electoral disputes heard by the courts in the wake of April’s general election.

The HRPP led by former Prime Minister, Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegoi, may yet prevail in this long running political tussle. If they win all seven seats and secure an additional member by way of the additional reserved seat for a woman (further to a Supreme Court ruling earlier in the year), they may have the numbers to take back the reins of power.

The FAST party, led by Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, has confirmed that they will be fielding a candidate in each of the seven by-elections.

PNG opens the T20 World Cup

(Guest contributor: Lachlan Cain)

Sunday marked a moment in history as PNG played in their first ever cricket World Cup. Having climbed the ranks for the past 4 years, in 2019 they got their big chance, despite losing to the Netherlands in the final of the qualifying event. Since then, thanks to COVID-19 and postponements, PNG have struggled to play many high-level fixtures. On Sunday they took on Oman, the host. Their start was below par losing two wickets without scoring a run. However, the captain Asad Vala and Charles Amini, showed the world what PNG can do sharing an 81-run partnership. Lack of match practice showed as they lost 6 wickets for 27 runs. With the ball they had some good moments, but Oman was too strong taking a comfortable victory in the first game of the tournament. Hopefully PNG can bounce back and ruffle some feathers this tournament.


Tess Newton Cain is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead of the Pacific Hub.