Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Cases and deaths are continuing to increase at worrying rates.” He said he was very worried about the potential for a much larger epidemic in Papua New Guinea, and it was vital the country received more COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. PNG has now reported more than 9,300 COVID-19 cases and 82 deaths.
“While these numbers are still smaller than other countries, the increase is sharp and WHO is very concerned about the potential for a much larger epidemic,” Tedros said.
PNG health minister Jelta Wong said there was an ongoing challenge in the country to get people wearing masks and disbelief about the disease itself, which would complicate efforts to role out vaccines.
WHO officials said three emergency medical teams had arrived in PNG this week from Australia, the United States and Germany.
“The situation is extremely challenging right now,” Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the western Pacific, said of PNG.
READ MORE: Justin Trudeau handed blow after new poll
While Covid-19 infections across all parts of the UK have fallen to the lowest level since the autumn, new figures suggest.
According to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), around one in 480 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to April 10 – down from one in 340 the previous week.
This is the lowest figure since the week to September 19 2020, when the estimate stood at one in 500.
Meanwhile in Wales, around one in 920 people was estimated to have had coronavirus in the week to April 10 – down from one in 800 in the week before and the lowest level since the week to September 10.
It comes as Downing Street insisted that the Government’s red list of travel ban countries is “under constant review”, when asked why India did not feature on it.
India has seen soaring Covid-19 rates, with more than 13.9 million confirmed cases and 172,000 deaths recorded.
Downing Street said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s planned visit to India was still due to go ahead later this month, despite concerns over the discovery of UK cases of a coronavirus variant first detected in the South Asian nation.
Public Health England (PHE) said some 77 cases of the B.1.617 variant have been confirmed in the UK.