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Johanniter send Medical Team to Papua New Guinea

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Strong increase in severe cases of COVID-19 infection ++ International medical assistance requested

Berlin / Port Moresby - A few days ago, the World Health Organisation issued an international appeal for medical assistance to Papua New Guinea. The country currently sees a significant increase in SARS-CoV-2 cases and widespread, uncontrolled transmission of COVID-19.

Johanniter‘s sister organisation, St John Ambulance Papua New Guinea - which has been providing community healthcare and emergency services in the country for many years - is setting up a field hospital with 296 beds on behalf of the government. The hospital‘s main purpose is to isolate and care for patients suffering from COVID-19. The Australian government is providing St John with the financial resources.

"The new cases are associated with more severe illness than the previously seen in 2020. We are facing the potential collapse of health services in Port Moresby and around

the country. A large number of hospital workers - over 120 staff - at Port Moresby General and National Capital District Health Authority (NCDPHA) are now positive for COVID-19", reports Matthew Cannon, Chief Executive Officer of St. John Ambulance Papua New Guinea. For this reason, St John asked Johanniter for a medical support team.

German Medical Team leaves Sunday

This Sunday, Johanniter will send a 7-member team to Port Moresby. The team consists of a doctor, four paramedics and two nurses. The volunteers come from Berlin, Baden-Württemberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Bavaria and Vienna.

"We are very happy to be able to support the work of our sister organisation St John Ambulance in this difficult situation. This is also a special assignment for our dedicated helpers in a challenging time for everyone," says Magdalena Kilwing, Head of the Emergency Response Desk at Johanniter International Assistance.

After their arrival in Port Moresby, the Johanniter team, together with the medical team of St John Ambulance, will isolate and provide medical care for COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms at the "Florence Nightingale COVID Centre" over the next four weeks.


Papua New Guinea has experiencing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases across the country since February 2021. As of 4 April 2021, a total of over 7,000 confirmed cases, including 61 deaths, have been reported. The total number of reported cases and deaths is likely to be significantly underestimated due to under-reporting and very limited testing across the country. 19 of Papua's 22 provinces have already reported COVID-19 cases.

Johanniter International Assistance

Humanitarian relief abroad is a statutory task of Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V. It is implemented by Johanniter International Assistance. More than 280 international and local employees work in 11 country offices and in Berlin. In June 2017, the Johanniter Emergency Medical Team was certified by the World Health Organisation as the first team of an NGO worldwide to become an "Emergency Medical Team Mobile 1" (EMT Mobile 1). The team has already been deployed to Mozambique after Cyclone Idai and to care for COVID-19 patients in Kosovo.

St John Ambulance Papua New Guinea

St John Ambulance Papua New Guinea is part of the worldwide Order of St John and is registered as an independent charity organisation in the country since 1957. St John is primarily active in ambulance, emergency care and pre-hospital care and is part of the nationwide air ambulance. The organisation also offers first aid courses. St John Papua New Guinea has played a crucial role in providing medical care to the population on behalf of the government since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. In addition to the new field hospital, St John supports testing, warehousing and distribution of protective clothing, masks and gloves, and contributes significantly to the nationwide immunisation programme.

Note to Editors

Members of the medical team are available for pre-departure interviews. Interviews can also be arranged from the field. Please contact the press office.

Video and photo material of the pre-departure team and their activities in the field will be made available.