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Race to defend the Torres Strait from COVID-19




But it has not been an easy task. Dr Brown said vaccinations in Saibai, which is just four kilometers from the PNG on the mainland, lasted a week.

The next two islands for vaccines, Dauan and Boigu, are also close to the PNG continent but away from Thursday Island’s main medical center.

Nurse Ruth Ferguson vaccinates Saibai Island school teacher Norah Tabuai.

Nurse Ruth Ferguson vaccinates Saibai Island school teacher Norah Tabuai.

Basically we had to fly with people in and out of a focal point, so for Saibai, we had to fly them from Horn Island every day, Dr. Brown said.

The moving vaccines, which had to be kept at low temperatures, would include a bus, a boat and then another bus so they were helicoptered from Horn Island to Saibai.

And it’s the wet season, so the weather can be quite challenging, he said.

About 4,500 people live across the 14 populated islands of the Torres Strait. Once vaccinations in Dauan and Boigu are completed, the team of about half a dozen health care workers, as well as the administration and support staff, will move to the islands of Horn and Hammond, which will be visited after Easter.


Cairns MP Warren Entsch said it was important to deal with vaccinations by looking at the entire region, including the treaty villages.

Terrible, absolutely terrible. Weve dealt with this throughout our region, he said.

Given the situation in Papua New Guinea I am happy to see that they are treating it as an advantage.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as well as providing 8000 vaccines for health care workers, personal protective equipment and funds, Australian health teams would assist PNG with vaccinations, including in villages in the western province.

Mr Entsch said he had also asked the Prime Minister, together with Foreign Minister Marise Payne, to consider providing further food support to the treaty villages until the treaty area reopens.

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