Government grilled over PNG virus response

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The Morrison government faces questions about the adequacy of its COVID-19 support to Papua New Guinea as Australia's vaccine rollout gains pace.

An AUSMAT team was dispatched to PNG on Tuesday with 8500 vaccine doses and medical supplies.

Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten, who has spoken with contacts in PNG, said there was a humanitarian disaster unfolding as 400 new cases were recorded there overnight.

Mr Shorten said the situation required a response similar to that seen following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

"Just sending a few thousand vaccination kits is not enough," he told the Nine Network.

"If we don't deal with this disaster right now, we'll be dealing with a much bigger disaster in weeks to come and we will look back in weeks to come and say we should have done more."

Health Minister Greg Hunt told parliament the government would step up the support for its northern neighbour.

"There is more to come from the national medical stockpile and from our international inventory of vaccines as we push to have those released," he said.

PNG has so far recorded 3359 cases of COVID-19 with the death toll sitting at 36.

It is raising pandemic restrictions, ordering pubs, clubs and gaming sites to shut on Wednesday.

The new trading curbs come in addition to tighter internal border controls, bans on large gatherings, school closures and mask-wearing mandates imposed last week as infections spiked.

However its health system is struggling to cope.

The Queensland government is seeking to increase the vaccination of nearby Torres Strait islanders.

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt said there had been 312,000 vaccinations given nationally, up 10 per cent in the past 24 hours.

The minister noted the AstraZeneca vaccine clinical trial data released overnight had shown 100 per cent effectiveness against serious illness, hospitalisation or death.

"That is an extraordinary result which should lead to a great deal of confidence not just here in Australia, but around the world," he said.

CSL's Melbourne facilities are producing 50 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be the mainstay of the Australian rollout.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Tuesday night gave approval for the use of the first locally produced batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The release of the 832,200 doses follows the TGA granting manufacturing approval to CSL on Sunday.

"The TGA's clearance of the vaccine for local manufacture is a major step in Australia's response to the COVID-19 pandemic," the medicines regulator said.

"We will now be able to provide secure access to large numbers of doses of a domestically-produced vaccine."

Monday marked the first day of Australia's phase 1b of the vaccination plan, which will see six million Australians get their jabs mostly via GP clinics.

Phase 1b of the program takes in everyone over the age of 70, along with Indigenous Australians over 55 and younger adults with a medical condition or disability.

Workers deemed critical or high risk can also apply.