Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, officially launched the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign ‘Sleeves Up’ today at APEC Haus, Port Moresby.
He said the launching of the campaign was timely in the Government’s response to curtail the spread of the second wave of COVID-19 and to protect the people. The first batch of 100,000 vaccines had already been brought into the country and would be distributed throughout the country for the campaign. He encouraged frontline and essential workers to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated, or they could exercise their right under the National Constitution by deciding not to get vaccinated.
However, Mr Marape warned that those who decided not to get vaccinated must also be prepared to accept the consequences, including getting infected and spreading COVID-19 to their families and communities.
He said vaccination had always been a part of the Government’s strategy to curb and stop the worst impacts of COVID-19, and now that the vaccine was available, the Government would be using it to continue to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent casualties.
“Our focus last year before the first index case was always about defence to prevent COVID-19 from coming into our country. “Since then, we had our first index case reported in March last year, and we went into an effective three-month hard lockdown strategy trying to curtail and minimise a blowout of the transmission of the virus. “When the second case was reported in Kokopo last year and there was no epidemiology link between the two cases, I knew the virus was already in our communities.
“We also knew from reliable information available that vaccinations may take up to a year to be made available, therefore, the immediate action plan was to prevent the virus from spreading quickly, minimising the transmission rate.” Mr Marape added, “We remember the 121 lives we lost and we want to reduce and prevent deaths of our people.”
“The ‘Niupela Pasin’ must now be a part of every Papua New Guinean lifestyle. It simply means that if you have no need to go to public place outside of your home or workplace, stay put where ever you are.” Mr Marape further emphasised that COVID-19 spreads from person to person, but people can reduce risks of getting the virus if they do not come into contact with an infected person.
“If you a moving in a bus or in an aeroplane, wear a mask at all time and keep appropriate distance ( 1.5 meters or 2 meters) from others. “Your health and safety individually means that your family is safe, your community is safe and your nation is safe.”
Mr Marape expressed his gratitude, on behalf of the government and people of Papua New Guinea, to all the development partners including the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and all the United Nations organisations, the people and Government of China, and especially the people and Government of Australia, through their Prime Minister Scott Morrison, for assisting in placing the country in a position to receive the first batch of Astra-Zeneca Vaccine through the COVAX Facility.
Meanwhile, over three million people have died of COVID-19 worldwide. He added, PNG did well in managing the pandemic as a result of the Government’s Isolation Strategy, through which the country was able to reduce the predicted transmission rate of one person infecting three other persons to a manageable rate.