Health Minister acknowledges combined effort to fight COVID-19

HEALTH Minister Jelta Wong has acknowledged government agencies, the private sector, development partners, business houses, churches and individuals who have joined hands together in the fight against the Coronavirus of COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Wong said the government cannot work alone and needed everyone to be part of the fight to stop COVID-19 from coming into PNG and to contain it from spread.

Minister Wong said, “Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic represents a significant challenge for governments and communities across Papua New Guinea. It is a challenge the Government together with the COVID-19 Joint Agency Task Force is committed to tackling with our communities, in the long-term interest of the stability, prosperity and resilience of our nation.

“The top priority for our governments right now is to contain the rate as low as possible. We have closed our borders to non-citizens and non-residents, and we have banned Papua New Guineans from travelling overseas.
“We have also put in place enhanced health screening for passengers flying to PNG.”
However Minister Wong said that as a country in transition the PNG Government needed to enable the movement of a small number of international experts, as well as essential supplies, medicines and food. He said that despite the COVID-19 pandemic the Papua New Guinea Government is also continuing to deliver essential TB, Malaria and HIV drugs throughout the country.

Service delivery continuation

“With support from the private sector, government agencies and development partners we are ensuring that we provide an emergency response that is in the best interest of Papua New Guineans,” Minister Wong said adding that the joint agency task force team is working to ensure water, electricity and telecommunication services are not disrupted. “Our airline industry and frontline services are continuing their work to ensure health facilities are equipped and that medicine reach women, men and children,” Minister Wong said.
Partner engagement
The Minister said the PNG Government has engaged with development partners to prepare for and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to manage the broader health and economic impacts. He said the government is assessing the current and long-term needs for health service delivery during and after COVID-19.
“With support from our partners we are assisting with laboratories, medical equipment, health expertise, public information campaigns and support for national preparedness plan. “Our development partners have moved quickly to bring forward funding for critical health services and to mitigate the economic shock.

“We have reactivated all Provincial Emergency Operations Centres that were used during the Polio Response. All provinces have Joint Agency Task Force teams consisting of key government agencies including police, provincial government, provincial health authorities, private sector and development partners.

“We have trained surveillance teams in the provinces and in the coming weeks we are increasing training for rapid response testing.” These will further boost to 32 personnel from the Health Department, School of Medical Science, Police and Military who have been trained and deployed this week to carry out testing in seaports, airports and along the Western Border (Western and West Sepik Borders). “In the last 24 hours the ‘Targeted Testing persons of interest at the Western Border and in the ports has resulted in 89 specimens collected and enroute to Port Moresby for PCR testing.

“In order to achieve our Emergency Response Plan to contain the spread of Coronavirus, the government through the trained rapid response teams will be collecting 1,000 specimen samples in targeted areas in Morobe and NCD.
“We continue to monitor the Call Centre to collect and verify calls that need further screening. As of today, we have received 41,000 calls at the call Centre.”

Persons of interest
The Minister said that there are 7,127 persons of interest (POIs) to date of which 6,560 have been cleared. Of the 567 remaining, 117 were persons under investigation (PUI) who have all tested negative for COVID-19.

“The significant decrease in the number of persons of interest is because of continuous follow up and screening. While we ramp up our efforts to contain the spread of Coronavirus, we are requesting every Papua New Guinean to ensure you take responsible measures to combat COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea.

“You can assist us greatly by doing only 5 simple things:

* Wash your hands often. Soap and Water will do.

* Cough into your elbow, not into your hands.

* Don’t touch your face.

* Keep a safe distance from others and

* Simply stay at home.

“Remember the virus does not move, people move it,” Minister Wong said.

Approved for release:

David Manning, MBE, DPS, QPM

Commissioner of Police &

Controller of the State of Emergency


For media contact: Chief Superintendent Dominic D. Kakas, BEM, DPS

Team Leader – COVID-19 Media & Public Information

Mobile: 75430557: Email:


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