Healthcare. Papua New Guinea press review
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG) Hon. James Marape says that PNG Government had to take a hardline approach to address the COVID-19 pandemic and urged people not to be complacent after all the eight people who had contracted COVID-19 had fully recovered.
Hon. James Marape also stated that the citizens of Papua New Guinea overseas would be brought back based on their medical clearance, and would be required to follow the State of Emergency (SoE) procedures. Hon. Prime Minister also says that he will talk to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) about a K5,000 fee it is requiring citizens to pay upfront. State of Emergency Controller David Manning also said the Government would pay for the citizens’ quarantine when they arrived home.
The State of Emergency in Papua New Guinea ends on the 2nd of June. PNG Parliament is expected to meet a week prior, to discuss whether to extend it or not, announced SoE Controller David Manning. But he thanked World Health Organization (WHO) for donating over 10,000 GeneXpert cartridges which will assist the PNG Government to do more tests and assess where PNG is, in terms of COVID-19 so that it can make the right decision. The tests will begin in Port Moresby and will also focus on areas where the positive COVID-19 cases were identified including in the border provinces.
According to State of Emergency Controller David Manning, COVID-19 threat is real and everyone should continue to take precautions and protect themselves. Mr. Manning said the northern and southern border areas between PNG and Indonesia were perceived as the single biggest threat, given the increasing number of COVID-19 cases across the border. Mr. Manning said that Papua New Guineans along the border provinces and even those from the Highlands provinces have been travelling across the border into Merauke in the south, and Jayapura in the north, to buy cheap Indonesian products or to sell vanilla and other items. «We have land and sea elements of the PNGDF and police patrolling these areas along the border […] There is no cure for COVID-19 but it is a disease we can recover from – as is evident from the first eight Papua New Guineans who contracted the disease».
On the issue of the return of PNG citizens from abroad, he said that every stranded citizen would be safely brought back into the country, but admitted that the repatriation process was not progressing as quickly as in other countries: «We remain committed to assessing case-by-case arrangement to not only see how best we can facilitate but subsidize cost for our citizens returning back home. The main focus now is clearing the stranded citizens in Australia, then work across to the Pacific but the only restriction is the availability of flights». Close to 800 citizens are to be repatriated back into the country with the majority in Australia and many scattered across the Pacific and other parts of the world, which would be under the 14-day quarantine in select facilities upon their return.
In turn, former prime minister Peter O’Neill has called on Prime Minister Hon. James Marape to explain why the government has denied the rights of citizens who want to return to Papua New Guinea. Mr. O’Neill’s call comes amid his restriction to travel back to Port Moresby. He is one of the other political leaders still stranded in Australia.
East Sepik Governor Alan Bird is thankful there is no confirmed case of COVID-19 in his province yet.
However, three people are confirmed dead from the recent flu outbreak in the Sialum Local Level Government area, Tewae-Siassi district of Morobe Province.