Health Minister Temu: stay alert for COVID-19 while scaling up immunization services

Thursday, 29 October 2020

Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Hon. Sir Dr Puka Temu has called on all Provincial Health Authorities (PHAs) to continue to stay alert for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as the country goes on a nationwide polio immunization campaign.

Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS Hon. Sir Dr Puka Temu

“I call on all provinces to increase level of preparedness, alert and response to identify, manage and care for new cases of COVID-19.

“I enjoin the CEOs of the PHAs to be in the frontline and sustain the necessary public health measures to reduce both COVID-19 transmission and economic, public and social impacts.”

Minister Temu also highlighted that other health programs should continue, especially the immunization services.

Papua New Guinea is conducting a nationwide Polio Immunization Campaign to vaccinate 1.3 million children under 5 years of age from 2-16 November.

“We cannot afford another diseases outbreak as we experienced in 2018-2019 when polio re-emerged in PNG. We successfully ended that outbreak and we must maintain the polio-free status.”

During the polio campaign, children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years of age will also be given Vitamin A capsules, while those aged between 1 year and 5 years of age will also be given de-worming chewable medicine.

The “COVID-19 has put a strain on our health system and the delivery of essential health services such as routine immunization has been affected. Maximize this polio campaign to increase immunization coverage and ensure that no child is left behind,” added Sir Dr Puka Temu.

As thousands of health workers are mobilized, Minister Temu reminded the public to remain vigilant against COVID-19.

“We should learn to live with COVID-19, and this means making a commitment to practice simple measures such as keeping safe distance, wearing mask in public places and continue hygiene measures as washing hands.”

The Health Minister also called on health facilities to test for COVID-19. Testing is a critical public health strategy. It is key to proactively finding the virus, isolating and treating those infected, and quarantining contacts.

“The key for us to managing this outbreak is proactively identify cases so we can prevent the spread.”

In the effort to decentralize the COVID-19 response, experts from the National Department of Health (NDOH), with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF will be deployed to the provinces to continue the technical support for COVID-19 in areas of surveillance and epidemiology, clinical management, laboratory, risk communication and community engagement and logistics.

 As of 29 October, Papua New Guinea has 589 COVID-19 cases across 14 provinces. There have been seven confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

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