Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Attackers of COVID-19 POI, patients warned

During the COVID-19 update this afternoon, Prime Minister James Marape did not mince words when issuing a warning to especially social media users who were relentless in their attack towards the East New Britain woman and even her province.

“The penalty that comes to those who commit that offence, under the state of emergency period, are higher than normal penalties that are afforded to similar crimes in normal circumstances,” Marape said.

Five ENB villages locked down

Since the confirmation of the first case yesterday, police moved to lock down the Raluana LLG villages of Ialakua, Baravon, Unamurmur, Vunatagia and Bitabaur.

ENB provincial police commander (PPC), Joseph Tabali, told this newsroom that the 40-year-old woman, who is from that area, has complied with their instruction to remain in her house, while her village and four others have been closed off. 

“No one is coming out to go to Kokopo or Rabaul,” said PPC Tabali. 

Govt yet to pinpoint origin of COVID-19 transmission

In a media briefing this afternoon, Police Minister Bryan Kramer said the 40-year-old developed flu-like symptoms on March 19th, where she received antibiotic treatment from the Nonga General Hospital.

K100,000 for South B’ville COVID-19 response team

The K100,000 is part of a K1.5 million funding assistance to the response team approved by the South Bougainville District Development Authority Board at its recent meeting in Buin.

Priority programs and activities already underway include awareness, which also entails sensitisation and training of health workers and stakeholders as well as surveillance and control of movement along the PNG-Solomon Islands border.

ENB on 21-day lockdown

Prime Minister James Marape, when making the announcement this afternoon, said domestics flights from ENB to Port Moresby were scheduled to resume but because of ENB’s case, specific operation orders will be issued by the SOE Controller to the provincial authorities.

PNG’s second COVID-19 case confirmed

The 40-year-old woman is a local resident of Kokopo in East New Britain Province.

“She’s a local person, she’s not coming from outside,” he told media.

“She’s kept in isolation while her village is in lockdown.”

The PM said the PNG Institute of Medical Research in Port Moresby picked up tests from persons of interests in ENB.

“At a time when the tests were picked up from three persons of interest, two returned negative while one returned positive this afternoon.”

Who is authorised to release COVID-19 info?

Police Commissioner and SOE Controller, David Manning, said as this is a health related emergency, the Prime Minister, James Marape, has delegated Health Minister Jelta Wong as the official government spokesperson on the PNG Government response to the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is critical and necessary that the established protocols with regard to the release of information are observed so that the correct information is being disseminated to the people of PNG,” Manning said.

300 volunteers to help COVID-19 medical team

Chief Medical Officer for the COVID-19 State of Emergency, Dr Sam Yockopua, announced that 40 volunteers have been selected and have begun training on Monday, 31st March, and should be ready to begin work with the State of Emergency medical team by this Friday.

Dr Yockopua said one third of them have health care backgrounds and include students, medical, health care workers, adding more will be engaged if the need arises.

SOE extended for another 2 months

Prime Minister James Marape, when giving his speech on the floor of Parliament, said the extension will ensure that we mitigate potential harm that the spread of the virus may cause and to allow Government agencies to implement urgent and ongoing measures to protect the people.

The Prime Minister said we cannot assume the virus has not reached our shores, urging everyone to be realistic.

He added that the Government will continue to put in place measures to contain and limit any possible infection and protect and safeguard all PNG citizens.

COVID-19: Urgent action needed in conflict zones