PNG govt urges personal measures against virus threat

2:43 pm on 2 March 2020

Papua New Guinea's government has advised people to stay away from mass gatherings as a precaution against coronavirus.

People in Port Moresby

People in Port Moresby Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

While PNG has no registered cases of covid-19, its government is encouraging personal protective measures by people.

PNG's government has budgeted $US13 million for an Emergency Response Plan to prepare and respond to the coronavirus threat.

Deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven has updated media on steps taken so far to ensure against the virus entering PNG.

This includes the screening of more than 287 flights and over 17,500 inbound travellers since late January.

But Mr Steven said should the virus reach PNG, it might well come down to simple measures such as good hygiene that determined whether people became infected or not.

To that, he added staying away from mass gatherings, as the disease was transmitted through close contact.

The deputy prime minster urged citizens to play their part through three areas.

"First is to seek accurate information from authorities such as the National Department of Health and the World Health Organisation," he said.

Secondly, he advised practising hand hygiene including washing hands regularly with soap and water, respiratory hygiene such as covering a cough, and food safety including cooking food well before eating.

"Thirdly, the disease is transmitted through close contact as well, so stay away from mass gatherings," Mr Steven said in a statement.

Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Minister and Attorney General, Davis Steven.

Deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven. Photo: PNG PM Media Unit

Out of the 17,500 travelers screened by PNG to date, seven were classified as persons of interest, and samples collected from them were tested at the Institute of Medical Research in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province.

All tests were negative for covid-19.

Under the emergency plan, border control and quarantine, surveillance and rapid response team operations, and isolation ward are in place.

But a more expansive quarantine facility in Port Moresby won't be operational later this month, Mr Steven indicated.

Meanwhile, he said the government had been advised by China that all Papua New Guinean citizens in China were "quite safe".