22 May 2020

PNG to treat respiratory illness as suspected covid-19

3:18 pm on 22 May 2020
David Manning, PNG's State of Emergency Controller and Police Commissioner.

David Manning, PNG's State of Emergency Controller and Police Commissioner. Photo: PNG PM Media

Papua New Guinea health officials will now treat people complaining of respiratory illness as suspected Covid-19 cases

PNG's State of Emergency Controller David Manning issued the order as officials seek more comprehensive information about how the outbreak may be developing.

So far PNG has confirmed just eight cases of Covid-19 but the number could be higher, with only limited testing capacity in the country.

Mr Manning said all respiratory illnesses, pneumonia and severe acute respiratory infections will be considered as suspected Covid-19 cases until a test returns a negative result.

He said all suspected cases must be tested within 24 hours of being admitted to a health facility.

Mr Manning advises this applies to anyone regardless of travel or case contact history.

The newspaper, The National, reports that under the new order, where a cluster of respiratory illnesses or influenza is reported through a health facility, village, church or school, the provincial health authority must organise to "swab between five and 10 cases from the cluster for testing".

Then it must be reported to Mr Manning or his representative within 24 hours from the identification of the cluster.

All provincial health authorities have been given the powers to swab for the purposes of testing for Covid-19 a minimum of five patients with influenza-like symptoms per week.