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Papua New Guinea State of Emergency Controller (SOE)David Manning has confirmed the most recent positive case of COVID-19 in PNG, which brings the total number of cases to eight.
“It is my duty to inform you that we have another COVID-19 case in Eastern Highlands Province, bringing our total number of infected persons to 8.Our most recent case is a 45-year old female, originally from the Eastern Highlands.”
“It has been reported that two weeks ago she developed fever and shortness of breath and body aches. She then presented herself to the Asaro Health Centre on the 12th of April and was immediately admitted at the health centre. She was managed for one week and improved.
“Whilst admitted on 17th of April her samples were collected and sent to PNG Institute of Medical Research in Goroka. Her test returned positive four days later.
“For quality assurance and best practice we are doing a second test for this patient. This is also being done for the positive cases that we have tested already. She was managed by the staff at the Asaro Health Centre. Currently, the health centre is locked down for disinfection and the staff have been advised to be home-quarantined and are kept under surveillance,” he said.
He said the Eastern Highlands Provincial Health Authority will be taking care of the Asaro health centre staff during their lockdown. The management is also working with the police to manage any potential social issues arising from this case.
The Controller said also that in the meantime advocacy and contact tracing activities have begun starting Wednesday.
“As you have seen there is a lot going on in the COVID-19 response in different areas such as screening and surveillance.
“As per my update Tuesdday, I repeat the following directives which have been made to ensure life continues in the “new normal”
• Universities and tertiary education continues next Monday 27 April;
• Primary and secondary schools resumes on 04 May 2020. All COVID-19 health protocols are to be strictly observed;
• All public transportation are still prohibited. Taxis may operate as long as there are not more than 3 passengers and in areas where there is a curfew such as the NCD they are not to operate at night. Strict COVID-19 health protocols will have to be followed;
• All domestic air travel to resume but only to provinces where there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19;
• All ships are allowed to berth and unload cargoes only. No passenger is allowed to disembark and no-one is allowed to board. At all times PPEs must be worn by both ship crew and port workers;
“I am aware of the issue of thousands of Papua Guineans who have been laid off and advise that I am in meetings with the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations, the Union and the Employees and the Government to find a solution.”
He has urged members of the security forces, including the police to do their jobs honestly and with due care.
“My warning still stands, I will come down hard on any member of the police who abuse our citizens during the SOE.”
“Members of the public are advised to report any abusive conduct by members of the police force on the Police Internal Affairs hot line telephone number 3202634,” said Manning.
Meanwhile, PNG and HIV-AIDS Minister Jelta Wong will answer to alleged fraudulent payments involving Covid-19 funds following a formal complaint lodged with the police fraud and anti-corruption directorate Wednesday.
The complaint is in relation to allegations involving a payment of more than K200,000(US$58,200) to a hardware firm early this month to pay DHL for the freight costs of test kits and face masks.
The complaint alleges that Wong, in the pretext of buying medical masks and test kits for Covid-19, paid K242,000 (US$70,422) to the hardware company to again facilitate payment to DHL for airfreight costs.
It is alleged that the firm the payment was made to was not a pharmaceutical company and was used as a third-party to pay another company (DHL) for airfreight services.
Director of fraud and anti-corruption directorate, Mathew Damaru, on receiving the complaint, said he would have the matter registered for appropriate investigations to take place.
“Allegations are allegations at this stage and only through investigations will we ascertain the facts surrounding such matters,” he said.
The complaint was lodged by activist Noel Anjo, with the support of various concerned citizens, who called for leaders not to use their positions to misuse public funds in such times when the nation was facing a serious threat from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Deputy Opposition leader Dr Allan Marat urged authorities to investigate the minister for suspicious deals involving Covid-19 funds. Marat said allegations leaked on social media concerning Mr Wong were alarming and warrant an investigation.
Wong brushed aside the allegations, saying procurement processes were followed before contracts were awarded to the companies.
He condemned the actions of people going on social media to tarnish his name and reputation.
Wong said that the letter leaked to social media recommending payments were from his office but the footnotes were not from him.
He said he only made recommendations to the acting Health secretary Dr Paison Dukulala and did not make calls for payment.
Wong said some firms have delivered much-needed personal protective equipment to provinces and the companies engaged have assisted a lot in the distribution to assist first responders in the provinces.
SOURCE: EMTV/POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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