Covid-19 cases in PNG keep climbing

5:45 pm on 17 March 2021

Cases of Covid-19 in Papua New Guinea continue to skyrocket with 82 new cases of the coronavirus announced.

This brings the country's total number of cases to 2,351 with 26 reported deaths.

Of the latest cases, 51 were from the National Capital District while the rest came from Chimbu with 13, Enga 9, Hela 2 and Morobe 6.

PNG's prime minister James Marape announces eight new Covid-19 cases in Port Moresby, urging all residents of the capital to wear masks. 21 July 2020.

PNG PM, James Marape indicates new measures will be implemented soon Photo: PNG PM Media

The National Pandemic Response Controller, David Manning, said there were also three new exported cases, of which two were identified in a hotel quarantine facility in Australia, while one was identified in Singapore.

Manning said the growing number of cases in the country reflected high community transmission which was "concerning".

Meanwhile, Prime Minister James Marape announced PNG would go into a nationwide isolation later this week to counter the spread of Covid-19.

Marape told local media that full details of the isolation strategy would be released shortly after the burial of the late former prime minister Sir Michael Somare, who died two weeks ago aged 84.

Marape said the restrictions on movement would be put in place during the upcoming school holiday.

He said the strategy would also allow health authorities to take stock of the extent of the outbreak.

A health worker puts swabs into a tube after collecting a sample for Covid-19 testing at Sunway Medical Center in Subang Jaya, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, on October 22, 2020.

Photo: Mohd Rasfan / AFP

So far only around 55,000 tests had been conducted out of a population of over eight million.

This means that people will be restricted from moving from place to place unnecessarily.

Manning repeated his call for every citizen and resident in the country to adhere to the health measures in place to curb the high surge of Covid-19 cases.

"Everyone has a responsibility to look after themselves by following the health measures in the 'New Normal' or 'Niupela Pasin'. We have a duty to protect ourselves and others as well.

"We have all shown during the national mourning period for our founding father the late Grand Chief Sir Michael that we are a proud and passionate people and if so, let us also extend that passion to protect our people and country by helping ensure the virus does not continue to spread."

Manning said PNG was relatively quiet last year with its low number of cases reported, but it had since bypassed countries like Australia by reporting the highest number of confirmed cases in the last couple of days.

"This is because residents and citizens in Australia listened and are following the health measures we are consistently talking about, whilst we on the other hand are ignoring them."

Meanwhile Manning also called upon people to stop spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.

He said Covid-19 is real and is in PNG.

"The sooner the educated elites understand and accept this and do their part in educating the people the better it will be for PNG's efforts to mitigate, contain and stop the spread of Covid-19."

PNG Pandemic Response Controller, David Manning

PNG Pandemic Response Controller, David Manning Photo: EMTV

Australia helps PNG with vaccines

Meanwhile Australia has said it will send thousands of doses of Astra-Zeneca vaccines from its own supplies to PNG, to help combat the worsening outbreak of the coronavirus.

8000 doses will be gifted along with masks, gowns and ventilators.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government had paid for them so Australia could support PNG with their urgent needs.

Morrison also called on AstraZeneca and European authorities to release more doses of the vaccine.

Some European countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab vaccine over concerns it's linked to increased risk of blood clots.

But the World Health Organization, UK and European medicines regulators said there was no evidence of this.