The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with partners, including the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) to support the Government of PNG to undertake outbreak response measures. Consistent with WHO advice, the Australian Government via the Department of Home Affairs has updated its visa application policy for travellers from PNG for consistency with other polio affected countries.
The Department of Home Affairs requests evidence of vaccination from visa applicants that have spent 28 days or longer in PNG and are aged 6 weeks and over.
Only new applications lodged for Australian visas are affected by the policy update. Existing visas, Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents, and ex-residents applying for a resident return visa, are not affected.
Travel under the Torres Strait Treaty for traditional purposes is not impacted.
Australia maintains high rates of polio immunisation, has good sanitation infrastructure and high quality surveillance and response systems; the risk to people in Australia is low from this outbreak. However, it is another reminder of the importance of being fully vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases, including polio.
Australia has well-established biosecurity processes in place at our international borders which screen and appropriately manage ill travellers. Due to the low risk to Australia, no further border measures are required or recommended at this stage.