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Papua New Guinea has recorded 19 more COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 110.
The cases, mostly health workers and inpatients are from the Port Moresby General Hospital with only one case in Lae.
Commissioner of Police and Controller of the National Pandemic Response David Manning said that these new cases now brings the total to 72 known active cases. These include 31 patients under care, with three critical cases, all in the Port Moresby General Hospital, including one on a ventilator.
“There are currently 2 moderate and 26 mild patients under care at Rita Flynn Isolation Centre after ten were discharged today.
“Seventeen days ago, we announced the 13th case after no case was detected for a month. This is an increase of 98 cases in just 17 days and this is very concerning.
“Saturday our laboratory in Goroka completed 182 tests and confirmed 15 cases on polymerase chain reaction tests while the other four were tested on GeneXpert at the Port Moresby General Hospital. This brings the total number of tests completed to date to 10,471.
“While the capital remains the focal point of PNG's surge of confirmed COVID-19 cases in recent days, another new case was reported today from Lae,” Manning said.
Controller Manning said while the positive case in Lae was now stable and in isolation, contact tracing efforts is continuing in the Morobe capital.
“The daily increase is alarming and very serious for our country,” said Manning.
As of Saturday, the health team with support from the NCD Provincial Health Authority have set up tents at Morata, Six Mile, Nine Mile, Gordons, Pari, Badili and Wanigela health clinics to set up screening areas for patients.
“This will greatly increase testing, identification and containment of the virus in the communities.
“We have identified clusters of cases in Morata, Koki, Wanigela, Port Moresby General Hospital, The National Department of Health, the National Control Centre, Ensisi, 3 Mile, 2 Mile, East Boroko, UPNG, Gerehu, Hohola and Vadavada. These areas have been identified as contacts of confirmed cases and tested.
“A team of 25 PNG Defence Force staff are supporting the health team to do swabbing at the clinics,” Manning said.
St John Ambulance with support from the New Zealand Government and the National Department of Health have set up a drive through sampling centre at the Taurama Aquatic Centre where people can get tested if presented with sore throat, cough, fever or runny nose.
Due to the significant number of new cases, the Health Advisory Committee made up of Papua New Guinean doctors have discussed and agreed upon a number of recommendations and measures.
“The measures are important at this time as it will allow the government and the frontline workers to respond to the current surge in NCD and to mitigate spreads to the rest of the country,” Manning said.
To date PNG has recorded 101 cases, most from the NCD, with three cases from Morobe, three from Western Province, two from East New Britain and one from Eastern Highlands.
Meanwhile, Oxfam in PNG with its local partners is deeply concerned with the recent spike in the number of COVID-19 cases reported in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The recent increase within the communities exposes many people, particularly the most vulnerable, to the risk of possibly contracting the virus.
Oxfam PNG Country Director, Anand Das, explained that in response to the alarming number of new COVID-19 cases Oxfam remains committed to supporting the work being done by Government in ensuring the safety of its citizens especially in vulnerable communities by re-enforcing the need to adhere to COVID-19 protocols and preventative measures.
“We have observed that there is still a large number of people who are not adhering or are unable to adhere to the preventative measures enforced by Government and this is extremely worrying. The National Department of Health has also reported seeing community transmission in the National Central District, making our work in amplifying our awareness messages even more vital at this point,” said Das.
The PNG government has taken immediate action by restricting domestic travel, increasing provincial border checks, and making wearing of masks mandatory, restricting public gatherings, imposing of curfews and intensifying contact tracing efforts.
“Testing clinics have also been set-up in various centres and the St John’s Ambulance is also providing testing services at a small fee to assist. We encourage people to take advantage of this service and most importantly to adhere to the protocols,” said Das.
He explained that there is growing concern also with the lack of understanding by the public on the need to utilise these clinics and the laxity in adhering to the preventative measures. “There is a need for more coordinated communication to re-enforce the messaging and this is where civil society organisations, NGOs and local partners can assist in reaching out to the people.”
Oxfam has initiated its COVID-19 Response Plan with support from the Australian Humanitarian Partnership Disaster Ready (DFAT) programme to spread community awareness through different forms of local and international media. Assistance received from the New Zealand Government (through MFAT) is also being initiated with an integrated approach of public health projects, awareness on COVID protocols, address food and income security of vulnerable populations and supporting district and provincial administration in the response.
“With the restrictions, our immediate concern is the safety and well-being of our staff and their families as well. We are also concerned with the safety of our partners in the communities and we may consider scaling down some of our programs on the ground and focus more on risk communication and community engagement by providing more COVID-19 awareness through the media,” explained Das.
Das also added that with cases are expected to increase, and Oxfam in PNG will focus on community outreach and awareness on COVID-19 protocols throughout the next 12-18 months, while concentrating on building resilience of communities through food security and nutritional activities, hand hygiene and safe sanitation, and gender and inclusion, including addressing gender relations and women’s increased workloads in the long run and supporting district and provincial administration in finalising their COVID-19 Response Plans.
SOURCE: PNG GOVT/OXFAM PNG/PACNEWS
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