Situation Update and Risk Assessment
* As of today, Papua New Guinea has reported two cases of COVID-19. In addition, a Papua New Guinean national also tested positive in Laos.
* We have deployed to the province three rapid response teams composed of epidemiologists, doctors, nurses, infection prevention and control specialists, logisticians and other personnel to support the Provincial Health Authority (PHA).
* These teams are doing contact tracing, isolating and treating anyone who is sick, collecting samples, quarantining contacts, and maintaining order in the community as responders do their work.
* Preliminary report received has identified 28 close contacts among family members, workmates and health workers, with 9 of them as persons under investigation. There have been 24 samples collected from 12 persons for testing.
* As of now, our priority is to identify the source of infection and be able to ascertain the extent of transmission.
* The affected village is on complete lockdown. We had to do this aggressive measure to prevent the spread of infection while our experts conduct their investigation.
* I appeal to the public, especially to the communities, this community needs our support and compassion. I know you are worried but stigmatization is not a solution. Stigmatization will worsen the situation.
May I remind you about the global picture:
* Globally, there are now almost 1.3 million people infected with COVID-19, with more than 72,000 deaths. In the Western Pacific region where Papua Guinea belongs to, we have about 11,500 cases, with more than 3,800 deaths.
* The increasing number of cases and deaths reported everyday highlights that COVID-19 remains to be a high risk to Papua New Guinea. Every country is part of the global community and our country shares the risk with the world.
* COVID-19 is now in our country. The fact that the infection was reported in East New Britain highlights that the virus can strike us anywhere – even in the most unexpected place.
* We have seen that even developed countries with the most advanced health systems are facing great challenges.
* Our vulnerability is affected by two factors: our limited capacity to manage a large-scale emergency such as a pandemic of this magnitude and the geographical distribution of our persons of interest.
* It is one big reason for us to launch an aggressive and vigorous response – and the declaration of the State of Emergency facilitates that process.
The State of Emergency (SOE) and our Response to date:
* The State of Emergency will become our new normal for the next months of this pandemic, and even more.
* This is necessary as we address the limitations of our system – and the challenges of competing with other countries for supplies and PPE.
* We are scaling us as we go – we improvise as we respond.
* But Government needs help of the public.
* Make a difference in your lives NOW. Support your country by taking care of your health. You know how to protect yourselves from COVID-19, do it and be a hero of health for yourself, for your family, for your community and for your country.
I know this is an extraordinary time for the country and the world – but I believe in the Papua New Guineans’ resilience to get through this crisis together. Let us look after each other.
Let us promote facts, not fear; let us offer support, not stigma.
For media contact: Chief Superintendent Dominic D. Kakas, BEM, DPS
Team Leader – COVID-19 Media & Public Information
Mobile: 75430557: Email: email@example.com