Approved for Release: 29th March 2020
The Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, MP, acknowledges the National Department of Health’s quick activation of their system to deal with Polio to contain the first Coronavirus (COVID-19) case for Papua New Guinea. The Prime Minister made the acknowledgement after it came to his attention that the Provincial teams that were put together to administer the Polio Vaccination right across the country last year have been activated and optimized as the rapid response teams for COVID-19 in their respective
He said all the provincial teams are in close contact with the National Operations Centre (NOC 19) through daily telephone calls and emails and they will be the team to collect samples from persons of interest to send to PNGIMR for testing.
“The National Department of Health’s Preventative Health Team are the frontline team at the Jackson International airport, screening passengers coming into the country, starting in January 28th, 2020,” Prime Minister Marape said.
“Their work in identifying persons of interest has made it possible to notify the rapid response teams in provinces to monitor those persons of interest identified.
“The frontline team at the airport started the screening process with no personal protective equipment and as scientists all over the world started to learn more of the virus, our team’s response was optimized by the acquiring of personal protective equipment and thermometers to increase the accuracy of their screening process.”
Prime Minister Marape said the optimization of our equipment and staff to carry out screening and to respond to a possible case was made possible by support from Papua New Guinea’s development, bilateral and multi-lateral partners.
The Prime Minister would like to extend his thank you to them as well as the police, defence, public servants, business houses and most importantly, the people who will deal with possible positive cases directly, the healthcare workers.
“From my family, myself and the over 8 million people of Papua New Guinea, thank you for your service to our country.”
However, the Prime Minister is urging all Papua New Guinean and residents to do their part to stop the virus spreading in the country.He is asking everyone to follow directions from the Government to assist the work that is being done by the COVID-19 National Security Emergency Response Task Force.
“If you are displaying flu like symptoms or are aware of any suspected cases, call NOC’s toll free hotline 1800 200 and talk to an operator. All calls made are free. If you are in one of our provinces or the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the NOC call centre will notify the rapid response teams in your province and they will come to your home to assist you and collect samples to be sent for testing.
Prime Minister Marape said the team is currently doing contact tracing and monitoring the 29, 166 passengers that came into PNG from the 28th of January to the 13th of March 2020. He revealed that the country has about 580 test kits and is expecting 4000 more to arrive in the country next week.
The Prime Minister said the laboratories at the UPNG Medical Faculty and the Central Public Health Laboratories are currently undergoing optimization and will come on line next week and testing can be done in Port Moresby starting next week as well.