COVID-19 is not a joke, it is real and it is here to stay, says Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr Osborne Liko.
Dr Liko was speaking during a COVID-19 press briefing at Morauta Haus, Waigani this afternoon, in which he also highlighted the latest surge in the number of cases in the country. “As of today, 27th March, seven days from 20th March, we have a total of 5,184 cases.”
In his remarks, Dr Liko highlighted figures of Saturday 20 March, which rose to 2790 cases, compared to the current cases of 2394 (27 March) , which he said had increased by 50 percent. “So you can imagine within that seven days, we have a total of 5,184 – it’s not a joke.
“And as of last Saturday, 20th March, we have total deaths of 36. Within the last seven days, we had nine deaths, which gives us a total of 45 deaths. We are in the red zone and it’s not a joke,’ he said. Dr. Liko has warned the public to take non-pharmaceutical measures seriously, such as washing of hands regularly, safe distancing, wearing of masks, staying at home if one is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, coughing into your elbows, no shaking of hands.
He further warned of hospitals being full to capacity with COVID-19 cases and appealed to every Papua New Guinean to be responsible and to take ownership of their own safety and health. In the meantime, the Taurama Aquatic Centre in Port Moresby will be fitted with 120 beds to take the load off the Rita Flynn Field hospital and the Port Moresby General Hospital.
However, Dr Liko said this would not solve the current surge in COVID-19 cases, adding “the curve is going up towards the red line.” He therefore urged everyone to respect and comply with the measures put in place by the Controller of the National Pandemic Response , the National Control Centre , agencies of government and the national government .
Meanwhile, the NCC and its medical team and the Department of Health are finalizing names of frontline health workers, and essential workers in immigration and ports of entry as well as the police, to be registered before the roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccines are administered at the National Football Stadium in Boroko, this week. Dr Liko also expressed his gratitude to the people and government of Australia for their goodwill donation.