More Covid-19 cases in PNG, health workers remain a concern

8:55 am on 3 August 2020

More cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Papua New Guinea, taking the total number so far in the country to 110.

PNG's police commissioner David Manning (left) and prime minister James Marape

PNG's police commissioner David Manning (left) and prime minister James Marape Photo: PNG PM Media Unit

The Pandemic Response Controller, David Manning, announced 38 new cases during the weekend in the capital Port Moresby where the vast majority of PNG's cases had been confirmed in just over two weeks.

Two Covid-related deaths had been confirmed to date.

Another case was confirmed earlier this week in PNG's second city of Lae, a health worker who had flown from Moresby to attend a workshop with around 70 colleagues who had subsequently been isolated and tested.

The high number of health workers or officials and staff from Port Moresby General Hospital among the current surge in confirmed cases was a major concern for PNG authorities.

The government insisted there was enough Personal Protection Equipment for all health workers in the country.

But Prime Minister James Marape suggested that more rigid protocol regarding use of PPE would be introduced to ensure it was effective for frontline workers.

Earlier this week, he announced a two-week lockdown in the capital in a bid to contain transmission of Covid-19, admitting the virus was now widespread.

Meanwhile, Manning, who is also the police commissioner, said that to date over 10,470 people had been tested for covid-19, with hundreds of results still pending.

As well as a number of sub-districts, authorities had identified clusters of cases in Port Moresby General Hospital, the National Health Department, and the National Control Centre overseeing the pandemic response.

As of this weekend, health officials had set up clinics for screening of patients in identified hotspot areas.

Manning said that with broader community testing over the next ten days, officials would have a clearer picture of the outbreak.

An Australian health crisis response team was due in the country this weekend, along with extra World Health Organisation staff, to help PNG work to assert some control on the unfolding crisis.

New Zealand is also supporting St John's Ambulance to establish a drive-through testing clinic at the country's main isolation facility at the Rita Flynn sports centre in Boroko.

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