COVID-19 Pandemic Response Controller David Manning todayissued nine new control measures to stop the further spread of the pandemic as PNG’s COVID-19 cases increases to 30.
With three new cases confirmed in the National CapitalDistrict within the last 24 hours the total PNG COVID-19 cases now stands at30.
Of this one was an expatriate mine worker in Bulolo inthe Morobe Province, two from East New Britain province, three from Western Province, one from Eastern Highlands Province, and 23 from the National CapitalDistrict.
Mr Manning today revoked all other measures issued on 15July and issued the new measures which come into effect from 23rd July 2020.
Mr Manning also announced new health measures forenhanced testing processes for the country with serious concerns on the alarming rate of increase of COVID-19 cases in Port Moresby and the likelyspread to the other provinces such as:
• The isolation of all confirmed COVID-19 patients at adesignated facility regardless of severity. If facilities are full, home isolation will be considered;
• The full activation of Rita Flynn facility to care for70 patients from NCD and the Central Province;
• Preparation of all provincial hospitals to haveisolation wards to care for COVID-19 patients;
• Collection and testing of samples of all suspectCOVID-19 cases. This includes any patient with pneumonia or respiratory cases; and
• Collection of at least 10 samples per day by healthfacilities selected by Provincial Health
Authorities not only from suspected COVID-19 cases butfrom people with influenza like illness or simple cough.
Mr Manning said there is high likelihood of expandedcommunity transmission and while there are no new cases in the provinces since April, it is known that testing has been very limited in the provinces despiteenhance testing strategy and the reluctance of persons to go for testing.
He said the National Control Centre is supportingprovinces to address barriers and increase testings with the logistical and medical support and continued work to address stigma and fear.
“While there is no evidence of hospitals beingoverwhelmed which may be due to delayed reporting or poor health checking behaviour, the country is preparing for large scale community transmission,” MrManning said.
He announced that the World Health Organisation (WHO) isissuing a request for assistance to International Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) to deploy to the country to assist the National Control Centre and theHealth Department to support COVID and non-COVID case management.
“There is an urgent need for EMTs to support PNG prepareand manage a surge in COVID-19 cases working with the Department of Health or manage stand-alone isolation facilities.”
“We are also discussing with the PNG Defence Force toassist in manpower to support the Health Department.”
“We have always said we don’t have adequate facilitiestherefore our request for support,” Mr Manning said.
Controller added that the priority now is to acceleratethe readiness of functioning quarantine and isolation facilities in all provinces.
He said the situation is worrying and a grave concern tothe government and he strongly urged citizens to continue to observe COVID-19 Health and medical protocols.
Meanwhile Mr Manning issued nine new measures for:
• Revocation of all previous measures;
• International travel;
• Domestic travel;
• Provincial coordination;
• Burial of deceased persons;
• Customs duties;
• COVID-19 testing;
• COVID-19 surveillance and testing; and
• Business and social.
Mr Manning said the COVID-19 technical advisory team isstill in discussions and taking into account all factors before recommending some other measures to counter the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases.
High amongst this is the increased testing of citizensand tracing of contacts by the medical and health teams and the involvement of police and the Defence Force to police implementation of measures put in place.
Mr Manning said the measures issued were done so with thebest intentions and were intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 whilst causing minimum disruption to the livelihood of people and businesses.
For instance the following are some of the measurescontained in measure number nine:
• The closure of venues or parts of venues for theduration of the pandemic that provide night club activities and services;
• The PNG Sports Foundation to be responsible forapproving sporting activities;
• An immediate ban on gatherings over 100 people;
• All markets to comply with social distancingrequirements and safe and hygiene practices; and
• Religious activities to continue but to comply withhealth protocols.
Mr Manning said the new measures do not defer much fromthe previous orders and gives emphasis more on good hygiene, social and physical distancing, enhanced testing, isolation and quarantine and the wearingof masks.
He urged citizens to continue to adhere to the health andmedical protocols especially wearing masks in public places and strict compliance to physical distancing and regular washing of hands.