Wednesday May 6 2020
COVID-19 State of Emergency Controller, David Manning, says more testings will start this week, beginning with provinces with the first eight cases then followed by the rest of the country.
Mr Manning said testings will go along with a research study headed by the head of the Department of Health Laboratory and Testing Unit, Dr Evelyn Lavu and the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) and will begin in Port Moresby, Lae, Kokopo, Goroka and also at the border provinces.
In a joint brief to the media, Dr Lavu said currently, the country has two diagnostic tests, one is Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and the other one is Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT). PCR is a test that looks at Coronavirus nuclear material that tells if a person has COVID-19 or not. This was the testing done in PNG that picked out the 8 positive cases.
“A lot more testing is planned for PNG at about 3,000. So with this figure we’ll have more understanding of the virus in PNG. The anti-body test in total will be looking at 12,000 – 2,000 in each province which are high priority provinces which have reported cases,” Dr Lavu said.
Dr Lavu explained that the tests in Papua New Guinea are slow because there are not enough test kits. She said that there is a world shortage of test kits and in terms of distribution Papua New Guinea is not a priority country because of the low number of cases.
She said the testing strategy would now change because the country was fortunate to have received 13,150 GeneXpert from the World Health Organisation (WHO). GeneXpert is an instrument that PNG has throughout the country. There are 69 instruments all over the country in all provinces and is a better equipment to diagnose COVID-19.
The RDT test is to see if the population is exposed to COVID-19 or not. This will test the anti-bodies or the footprint of the coronavirus. The anti-body test is not a diagnostic test, instead it will tell a person’s exposure to COVID-19.
“I urge all people to come forward for a test if they have symptoms. This will help your country and protect your family,” Mr Manning said.
He commended all officers of the Department of Health and members of the COVID- 19 Joint Agency Task Force for their commitment thus far in the Government response to the pandemic.
He said the hard work was not over and urged people to continue to follow the health protocols of washing hands regularly, coughing into the elbow, avoid crowded places, observe social distancing and staying home when not required to go out.
Media contact: Chief Superintendent Dominic D. Kakas, BEM, DPS
Team Leader – COVID-19 Media & Public Information Joint Agency Task Force
Mobile: 75430557:Email: firstname.lastname@example.org