First two Papua New Guinean’s confirmed with coronavirus
PAPUA New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape has confirmed the first local case of COVID-19 hours before the country’s first 14-days lock-down was widely anticipated to be lifted on Tuesday April 7.
PM Marape in a press conference revealed the first local case has been acquired by a 40-year-old female from Kokopo, East New Britain province who has since been isolated. Her entire village is under 21-days isolation starting April 7.
Earlier in the day on April 6, Immigration Minister Westly Nukundj revealed that a Papua New Guinean man in Laos had also acquired the coronavirus and has since been detained there.
So far there are now three coronavirus cases for PNG, one expatriate (repatriated), one local overseas case (Laos) and now the first local case.
Following PM Marape’s announcement the Tokua airport has been closed and the East New Britain province will remain in lock-down for an additional 14 days. A rapid response team has started procedures and protocols to isolate the local village and all villagers for 21-days.
Security personnel have also been deployed to the PNG-Indonesian border to assist PNGDF deployments with two police rapid response teams sent, one to East Sepik and another to Western province. PM Marape also announced an additional 14-days lock-down for border provinces of Western, East Sepik and West Sepik where teams from the NOC 19 Rapid Response teams have been deployed.
Further measures are expected to be put in place with announcements expected from PM Marape and SOE Controller Mike Manning during the week.
With an ineffective health system, it will be a great challenge for Papua New Guinea to contain the pandemic if more related cases are found, considering PNG families live as extended families and social and traditional interactions are a daily norm.
At the time of the Prime Ministers announcement 60 plus samples from Western province are understood to have been sent to Port Moresby to undergo testing.
The SOE was extended for another two months when the Government reconvened for a special Parliament sitting on Thursday April 2, to give effect to the legality of the SOE and pass important bio-security and food security laws amid discovery of African Swine Fever and ‘fallout army’ worm.
Schools are still closed until April 27 with some educational institutions already exploring online learning options for their students.
Meanwhile the World Bank Group has reaffirmed its commitment to providing a fast, flexible response to the coronavirus pandemic. In a recent response to the pandemic on April 3, the World Bank Group said it is offering financing, policy advice and technical assistance in every region, across every area from healthcare and education to trade and technology.