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Three PNG government MPs covid-positive amid political crisis, Passengers to pay all quarantine expenses under new travel measures
04:17 am GMT+12, 26/11/2020, Papua New Guinea

-Three members of Papua New Guinea's parliament have tested positive for Covid-19.
 
The MPs, whose names haven't been publicised, have been in Prime Minister James Marape's camp during the ongoing political standoff.
 
PNG's Pandemic Response Controller, David Manning, said an MP was initially tested at the weekend and returned a positive result.
 
According to Manning, the MP was isolated away from the rest of the government camp at Loloata Island, but that contact tracing unearthed more cases.
 
“As a result of further tests we did pick up another two positive cases, and of course they have now been isolated as well," Manning told a media conference in Port Moresby.
 
“I have written in my capacity as controller to the Speaker of the national parliament, advising him of the three positive cases, and as such I have recommended to him, consistent with our procedures as to what we expect in how to respond to this in so far as the parliament is concerned.”
 
Health officials said any recall of parliament would need to follow safety guidelines. In the meantime any other MPs or parliamentary staff who have been in contact with the MP at the Loloata resort are to be isolated and tested.
 
All three cases are described by health officials as having “mild symptoms”. The new cases in the National Capital District take PNG's total number of confirmed infections to date to 633.
 
Local media is also reporting that another MP who had been at the Loloata camp had since also left for Vanimo in PNG's northwest, where opposition MPs are camped.
 
Health officers in Vanimo have been directed to test the MP and close contacts.
 
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner and Controller of the PNG COVID-19 National Pandemic Response David Manning has directed that all persons including PNG citizens will now pay for their quarantine costs when arriving into the country.
 
This includes the costs of the quarantine at hotels and the wearing of tracking devices or phone tracking applications which is conditional for those who have applied for home quarantine, or for those in hotel quarantine that have arrived from high risk countries.
 
These are among the new requirements under Measure Two on International Travel approved by the Controller on 13 November 2020 and becomes effective on 01 December, 2020.
 
Manning said the tough economic situation being brought about by the Pandemic and its effect on the economy has resulted in this decision to save the much needed funds for use in other areas also important to the country’s COVID-19 response.
 
Manning has also directed that persons arriving into the country from destinations away from Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island countries be subject to being monitored by an approved tracking device or tracking application at their own cost.
 
The direction will become effective from Tuesday 01 December 2020.
 
“This is for both citizens and non-citizens and includes those that are approved to be home quarantined to use tracking technology. We are doing this because of great concern that people are not adhering to strict quarantine rules especially those from the countries away from Australia, New Zealand and Pacific island countries. They will remain quarantined for 14 days on arrival and must remain in that place, self-quarantined and segregated from other persons for 14 days,” Mr Manning said.
 
Manning said those arriving from Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific island countries will continue to be quarantined for 7 days, however will only be required to use tracking technology if approved home quarantine.
 
The Controller warned that those who fail to adhere to these strict-conditions could be declared persona non grata and face deportation if they are non-citizens while citizens will be penalised according to the National Pandemic Act 2020 (K50,000(US$14,250 and/or 7 years imprisonment).
 
“There is evidence of an increase in cases in the country as per recent statistics. I am concerned that we have not done enough testing. We must therefore maintain vigilance and continue to enforce strict monitoring and surveillance of people entering the country.
 
“I have urged our health officials to increase COVID-19 tests to enable us to have a real picture of the presence of COVID 19 in the country,” Manning said.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PNG GOVT/PACNEWS


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