Lae locked down and PNG hospital restricts services as Covid cases rise

1:19 pm on 9 March 2021

The Papua New Guinea town of Lae has been placed in lockdown, Port Moresby's main hospital has restricted services and Bougainville has issued a 'new normal' edict as the country wrestles with Covid-19.

Morobe Provincial Authority headquarters in Lae, Papua New Guinea

Morobe Provincial Authority headquarters in Lae, Papua New Guinea Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Lae town, in Morobe Province has been placed in lockdown until Friday next week.

This follows a spike in numbers in Lae, Huon Gulf and Nawaeb Districts.

The Morobe Provincial Emergency Operations Committee issued an edict saying a 'No mask No Entry' rule would apply to all government offices and businesses.

Bars, social clubs and gambling houses are closed until 19 March.

Hotels, motels and guest houses must comply with the various directives.

Shops and traditional markets can open but customers must wear masks, wash hands and sanitise before entering.

Sports events and large gathering cannot go ahead, but church services can, if congregation size is limited to 50 people.

The committee directive said a failure to comply would result in penalties under the National Pandemic Act.

PNG's main hospital restricts services

Port Moresby's main hospital is being forced to restrict its services as the capital is also confronted by more Covid-19 cases.

Covid-19 infections have soared - in the past five weeks there have been about 800 cases, with Port Moresby the worst hit.

Port Moresby General Hospital

Port Moresby General Hospital Photo: POM General Hospital

The Chief Executive of Port Moresby General Hospital, Dr Paki Molumi, said they were having to prioritise services.

The Consultation Clinic is being shut for two weeks, with staff moved to other areas.

Only emergency surgery is being undertaken - while all elective surgery is on hold until further notice.

The Emergency Department will be open but the public is being encouraged to use other medical clinics.

There will be no Gynecology Clinic, while the Antenatal Clinic will continue but with limits on bookings.

There will also be limited imaging services available, however blood services will remain at the Pathology Department.

Bougainville outlines new normal in age of Covid-19

Bougainville has issued a 'Niupla Pasin', or 'new normal' edict after a surge in Covid-19 cases in the past ten days.

The government issued an advisory saying public services were being scaled down.

It said a 'No Mask No Entry' directive would be strictly enforced at government offices, while staff numbers would be restricted to no more than five people to allow adequate social distancing.

People were being encouraged to use devices to contact offices to limit face to face interaction, while they were also encouraged to make no more than one trip outside of Bougainville each month.

The government called on all departments to support the food donation initiative from the Bougainville Department of Health to feed households where there were confirmed Covid-19 cases.


Arawa Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades