Dakulala urges citizens to be vigilant

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Papua New Guineans have been urged to be vigilant and stay focused when dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Deputy Controller and Acting Secretary for Health Dr Paison Dakulala, in his update on COVID-19 today, said despite the country reporting so far only eight confirmed cases of COVID-19, people should not be complacent.

“Let us continue to be vigilant and very focused in trying to deal with the pandemic in our country,” he said.

As of 11 May, a total of  30,887 passengers were screened in PNG, and of that, 7,762 travellers underwent screening and monitoring. From this figure, 7,552 completed 14 days of screening and monitoring. This leaves 210 travellers currently undergoing screening, monitoring and follow up.

The origin of the recent arrivals are Australia which is 124; Indonesia (5); New Zealand (23); Singapore (50); others – 4 and unknown -4.

Dr Dakulala said it is important that ‘we continue to screen our borders and every citizen that comes in from outside our country” because our updates show that the number of cases in many countries are continuing to rise.

He highlighted his point by giving update on a few countries in the Western Pacific region. These are  Australia, 6,970 confirmed cases, with 97 deaths; Singapore, 23, 822 confirmed cases with 21 deaths; French Polynesia, 60 with no deaths; New Caledonia, 18 with no deaths; Fiji, 18, with no deaths; and Indonesia has 14, 265 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 991 deaths.

The Papua province of Indonesia, he said, is of great concern. It has so far 308 confirmed cases with six deaths.

Dr Dakulala noted the testings done in Indonesia which is more than 161, 400 tests compared to PNG which has done 3,000 tests so far, saying this needed to be scaled up.

He said PNG cannot ease restrictions on its borders and international flights at this stage. “That is still a very big risk,” he said.

“In the meantime, we must continue to maintain vigilance and put into practice preventive measures.”

These are frequent handwashing; Respiratory hygiene. If you cough, cover it or cough into your flexed elbow; Wash your hands all the time, especially after blowing your nose, sneezing and going into the bathroom; Social distancing  is seen as a powerful means of keeping COVID-19 at bay. Stay 1.5 to 2 metre apart; and avoid crowds.

COVID-19 is an infectious disease that spreads through droplets from an infected person and the betelnut culture provides an environment for the virus to spread.

“It will require everyone to stop the spread of COVID-19 if we take on these simple measures and continue to be vigilant.”

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