The number of Papua New Guinea’s COVID-19 cases has increased to over 60. In response, the country’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response Controller, David Manning, has issued new control measures in an effort to prevent further spread, with more to come.
Papua New Guinea’s COVID-19 cases rose to 62 yesterday, with 23 new cases announced in a single day. David Manning, Pandemic Controller, said that recently confirmed cases now included an expatriate mine worker in Bulolo, Morobe Province, two individuals from East New Britain, three from Western Province, one from Eastern Highlands Province, and more than 20 from the National Capital District.
Papua New Guinea has asked the World Health Organisation for help and Manning has issued nine new measures to cover international and domestic travel, co-ordination between the provinces, burials, customs duties and testing. There are also guidelines for business and social activities:
- The closure of venues or parts of venues for the duration of the pandemic that provide night club activities and services
- The PNG Sports Foundation to be responsible for approving sporting activities
- An immediate ban on gatherings over 100 people
- All markets to comply with social distancing requirements and safe and hygiene practices
- Religious activities to continue but to comply with health protocols
‘We are seeing community transmission and I am therefore urging everyone to take our health message very seriously,’ said Paison Dakula, Deputy Controller on the National Pandemic Response.
‘You need to take responsibility of your health, your family, community and the country by wearing a mask, sanitising your hands or simply stay at home.’
As per Prime Minister Marape’s instruction, the use of masks is now mandatory in Port Moresby.
Manning announced on 26 July that domestic travel will be reduced to ‘essential services’ from 28 July and that a curfew will be imposed in the National Capital District from 10 pm to 5 am. Measures regarding public transport and schools may also be announced this week.
John Byrne, President of the Lae Chamber of Commerce, said the Morobe Provincial Emergency Operations Committee is asking the National Controller for permission to cease passenger flights from Port Moresby to Lae until there is ‘proper and complete screening’ at Port Moresby and Nadzab airports. He said it is hoped this measure would not last longer than two weeks.
‘Also, communication with other provinces is underway as many people fly from Port Moresby to another province, and then through to Lae, on business “milk-runs”. We will also be setting up full hygiene checkpoints (not roadblocks) on every person passing through Mutzing and from Bulolo as soon as is practicable.
‘Face masks are not mandatory in Lae yet, but if we have an outbreak, they most likely will become mandatory – certainly in schools and potentially for anyone moving in or around town offices or business houses.’
Manning announced enhanced testing processes. He said testing has been ‘very limited’ in the provinces. ‘While there is no evidence of hospitals being overwhelmed, which may be due to delayed reporting or poor health checking, the country is preparing for large scale community transmission’.
He said that more measures to try to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be announced soon.
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