14 May 2002

Australia denies malaria patient transfer from PNG refugee detention centre to Australia

4:31 pm on 14 May 2002

The Australian government has denied that it has transferred any boatpeople suffering from malaria from its detention centre in Papua New Guinea to Australia for treatment.

The immigration department says none of the Middle Eastern boatpeople sent to Manus island has been transferred to Australia.

The department says 344 detainees are still on Manus, 104 of whom have been classified as refugees.

This contradicts an earlier statement by the Papua New Guinea government which was confirmed by Australian doctors who say at least one malaria patient was flown to Darwin.

There are conflicting reports of how many asylumseekers contracted malaria since they were flown to Manus.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians accused the Australian government of breaching its own health guidelines and recommended that women and children do not travel to such places.

A case is before the national court in PNG to determine whether the government has breached the constitution by allowing a foreign power to run a detention centre on its soil.