Military put on alert as PNG announces further restrictions

PNG troops
On alert ... PNG troops as the Marape government takes fresh precautions against the Covid-19 coronavirus. Image: Scott Waide

By Scott Waide in Lae

The Papua New Guinea Defence Force has been put on alert as Health Minister Jelta Wong formally declared the Covid-19 coronavirus as a “quarantinable disease” under the country’s health laws.

The National Security Council met on Monday to discuss additional control measures in light of the worsening crisis in Australia and other countries.

Prime Minister James Marape yesterday announced that overseas flights from Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan, Sydney and Nadi would cease as of Sunday next week and there would be controlled entry from Brisbane, Cairns and Singapore.

READ MORE: Four new coronavirus cases in NZ brings total to 12 – all returned travellers – $12.1 billion NZ economic rescue package
Coronavirus global watch updates – 168,000 infected, at least 6610 deaths

“We are now scaling down flights next week…We have now put the military on standby to assist if a first case is established,” he said.

“Their medical facilities and officers [doctors and engineers] will be engaged for now and future pandemics.

“They have given us the Taurama Medical Center and 10 medical personnel for use,” Prime Minister Marape said.

Through a government Gazette notice, Health Minister Wong listed a series of actions supported by existing quarantine legislation, stating he was satisfied that the magnitude of the pandemic warranted the measures.

Australia excluded
The list of countries that fall under the 14-day pre-entry quarantine include 27 European Union member states. Australia, where the majority of expatriate mine workers come from, has been excluded.

“The following countries are proclaimed places under section 12(a) of the Quarantine Act 1953 and are infected with quarantinable disease being Covid-19: People’s Republic of China (including mainland China), South Korea, Iran, the European Union, United Kingdom and the US.”

Last weekend, Marape has already announced a 60-day ban on cruise ships as well as prior 14-day quarantine and medical clearances for all travellers coming from Hong Hong, Singapore, China and other Asian ports, including other high risk countries.

Overseas travel bans had also been placed on government workers while a separate ban has been imposed on traditional border crossers between Papua New Guinea, Australia, Indonesia and the Solomon Islands.

“We have now banned traditional border crossers until further notice.

“Anyone found to be crossing those borders will be heavily penalised. The traditional border crossers are to refrain from travelling until further notice.”

Scott Waide is a deputy news editor of EMV News and this article, first published on his blog My Land, My Country, is republished by the Pacific Media Centre with permission.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email