PNG shuts down Indonesian border post over coronavirus

Vanimo border post ... closed for travel to Indonesian-ruled West Papua. Image: EMTV News

By Stanley Ove Jnr in Port Moresby

The PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority (PNGICA) has ordered a temporary shutdown of the Wutung border post with Indonesian-ruled West Papua in Vanimo, West Sepik Province, following the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus.

The order will come into effect officially tomorrow (January 30).

However, EMTV News has confirmed the Wutung border post has been shut down today with people advised not to travel to Wutung or the Batas market.

READ MORE: Government urged to close Pacific flights if coronavirus reaches NZ

With the shutdown, quarantine checks are expected to be set up on both sides of the border before anyone is allowed entry.

Orders were also issued to have all online visas suspended including visas on arrival, refusal for entry for travelers from any Asian ports and all PNG nationals re-entering PNG from Asian countries to go through mandatory checks and health department requirements.

While many have criticised the PNG government’s slow response to have quarantine checks established in all ports of entry around the country, Opposition Leader Belden Namah, who is also Vanimo-Green MP, slammed the national government for its slow response since news of the outbreak.

‘Lack of health facilities’
“The chance of an infection to pass unnoticed is very high because of the lack of health facilities and health care professionals,” Namah said.

“I want the health minister to give assurance that proper facilities will be set up at Wutung, given Indonesia’s prompt response on their side of the border.”

The order to shut down the border came hours after East Sepik Governor Allan Bird issued a ban on all Chinese nationals entering East Sepik Province.

A similar ban is also expected for West Sepik province.

Stanley Ove Jr is an EMTV News reporter.This article is republished in partnership with EMTV.

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