Prime Minister Hon. James Marape admitted today that there is “rampant community transmission” of COVID-19 in the country as the highest number of 560 recorded cases over the last 24 hours was reported.
This brings to 4660 the number of confirmed cases in the 21 provinces of the country and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville since March 2020, with 39 deaths. Today is the 281st day of the Nupela Pasin (New Normal) in PNG.
PM Marape announced this at a press conference, flanked by Pandemic Controller David Manning, Health Secretary Dr Osborne Liko, and Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (MESAC) Deputy Chairman Prof. Isi Kevau and member Prof. John Vincent. Prof Kevau is Professor of Medicine at University of PNG’s School and Medicine and Health Sciences while Prof. Vincent is Deputy Dean of the school.
“The last 24 hours was possibly the highest to date – 560 cases,” PM Marape said. “In our country today, there are 4660 cases confirmed – this is from those that were brought in for sampling and testing. “From those known deaths, 39 deaths have taken place because of COVID.” PM Marape appealed to rumour-mongers to stop what they were doing on social media and other platforms.
“James Marape is not playing politics when I talk about COVID-19, I did not manufacture COVID-19 in a lab somewhere, I did not import COVID-19 into this country,” he said. “Just like viruses that transfer from person to person, from human to human, COVID-19 has arrived in our country despite us doing our best to keep our borders safe.
“It is in our country now.” PM Marape said the Government was not stifling economic activities and the public service because of COVID-19. “We’re trying to maintain a fine balance between keeping our economy running and functioning, keeping our public service there for our people, but at the same time stopping unnecessary movements of people who have no reason to move around from place to place,” he said.
“At the same time, through collaboration with our own MESAC and Health Department as well as World Health Organisation and our established global partners on what are the options available, we will make vaccines available.”
Meanwhile, PM Marape said the vaccination programme using the 8000 AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Australia, was expected to start next week.