Australia is to send 8000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Papua New Guinea to vaccinate healthcare workers there.
The country is battling against rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia would help out.
The vaccinations will begin in the capital, Port Moresby, before being rolled out to other towns and regions.
The government has also put new conditions on travel to and from the Pacific nation which is only 150 kilometres across the Torres Strait from northern Queensland, and less if you count islands in between the mainlands.
The most northerly inhabited part of Queensland - Boigu Island - is six kilometres from the Papua New Guinea mainland.
What is the PNG situation?
There has been a spike in cases there, with more than 100 people a day testing positive.
Since its first case was diagnosed 12 months ago, the country has avoided a large number of cases but that has changed in recent weeks. "A crisis is now unfolding with alarming speed and the response must quickly match it," according to Brendan Crabb and Leanne Robinson of the Burnet Institute in Melbourne (she is also a researcher at the PNG Institute of Medical Research).
They said that Australia could be "proud" of its help to PNG so far, with more than $500 million towards developing vaccines for use in poor countries, including PNG, and providing vaccines and technical help.
"As good as they are," the two experts on health in PNG say, "these plans are unlikely to be fast enough to stop this current surge before enormous damage is done. There's simply no time to waste in responding."
"They are our closest neighbours and they are largely defenceless in the face of this deadly pathogen," according to Rowan Callick of the Asia Institute at Griffith University.
"The relative isolation of those who live in remote mountain valleys and on the islands will help protect them.
"But most of PNG's nine million people are now in towns, cities and villages connected by roads, regular flights and boats - the crucial connections to markets and modern living that have now been turned also into COVID infection highways."
Can Australian dollars be diverted by bad government?
Transparency International which documents and tries to eradicate corruption says that Papua New Guinea has a history of corruption: "A report by the Ombudsman Commission of Papua New Guinea released in 2018 recorded 115 allegations of corruption levelled against different members of parliament since independence in 1975.
"These allegations ranged from the allocation of funds to private accounts and to unidentifiable, unregistered and non-existent groups. In addition, allegations included the allocation of funds without proper procedures; to company leaders with undisclosed interests; and the allocation of funds which were not acquitted.
"The resulting impact of these cases (and many more unreported cases) has seen a multi-billion dollar drain on successive budgets since the country gained its independence from Australia in 1975."
So why help?
It's close, and an epidemic six kilometres from Australia is a risk to Australia. China is also seeking to expand its influence.
And it may be the right and neighbourly thing to do for a country which ranks 155th out of 189 countries on the UN's Human Development Index.
Rowan Callick, who worked for 10 years there, concedes that corruption has badly damaged the country but cites amazing healthcare workers who have striven against all the odds on behalf of ordinary people.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: "Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have always been extremely concerned for our Pacific family, for our neighbours, and over the course of this last year, the Pacific community has done such an extraordinary job to substantively keep their islands free of COVID-19."
What are we doing?
Australia will give 8000 vaccine doses to Papua New Guinea for vaccinating front-line health workers, beginning next week. Personal protective equipment will also be sent, including surgical masks, N95 masks, gowns, goggles, gloves sanitiser, face shields and ventilators.
Another 588,000 vaccines will be sent by June as part of the international facility known as COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, to give it its full title) is a global initiative aimed at giving access to vaccines throughout the world, including very poor countries.
A team of Australian medical professionals will arrive in Papua New Guinea next week to help with the response to the outbreak and help plan for the vaccine rollout, with further staff to be deployed in coming weeks. Vaccinations on the Australian islands of Torres Strait will also ramp up.
Passenger flights from Papua New Guinea to Cairns will be suspended from midnight on Wednesday, and flights have already been suspended from a PNG mine where the rates of testing positive for coronavirus was almost half.
Passenger caps from Port Moresby to Brisbane will be reduced by a quarter.
Travel from Australia to Papua New Guinea will be suspended, except for essential and critical workers, including humanitarian activity. Fly-in-fly-out workers who travel between the two countries will need to stay where they are.
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