Marape confirms PNG’s first Covid-19 coronavirus case on live TV

PNG Prime Minister James Marape announcing the country's first Covid-19 confirmed case on live television last night. Image: PMC screenshot of EMTV broadcast

By Theckla Gunga in Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea has reported its first confirmed Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic case.

The announcement, made last night live on television by Prime Minister James Marape, came 72 hours after samples were sent to the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) for testing.

The Prime Minister, who took a while to admit that PNG had its first confirmed Covid-19 case, said he was pleased that health authorities had detected the case and isolated the 45-year-old- foreign mineworker in Lae.

READ MORE: Drama and panic as PNG government blunders through first Covid-19 crisis

The IMR also released a statement late last night confirming the test results of the probable Covid-19 case initially announced by Health Minister Jelta Wong on Tuesday, March 17, was positive.

The IMR said this was now the first reported case of COVID-19 in the country.

“It is important to note that it is an imported case and as of today (20th March, 2020) we do not have any evidence of local transmission in PNG,” the statement said.

But what stands out are the inconsistencies between the statements by the Health Minister, the man’s employer,  the Prime Minister, and the IMR.

Initially, Minister Wong announced a “probable case”.

Hours later, Harmony Gold said the tests were inconclusive. This was followed by a Facebook post by the prime minister and the health minister, saying the tests were negative.

Since Tuesday, political leaders have announced separate Provincial Taskforce Teams to respond to the coronavirus.

The police and the military have been put on alert to provide support.

Theckla Gunga is an EMTV News reporter and a journalism graduate from the University of Papua New Guinea. The Pacific Media Centre republishes EMTV stories in partnership.

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  1. It’s now confirmed positive case in PNG.Our health is in risk and must be monitored strickly as media advice health control measures applied oftenly.
    As I suggest that the corona virus first brought to central china,wuhand last year october by the millitary from U.S once attend the millitary game in wuhan then rapidly struck out numbers within months till the issue become notify by health authorities till today PNG confirm it’s first case in morobe province.It’s like a biological warfare between china and U.S regarding economy or racisim…That’s just my suggestion.


  2. If this is biological warfare by the USA, then it appears they have shot themselves in the foot. Actually more like they pulled the pin out of the grenade and forgot to throw it.
    Occam’s razor says it’s a natural event, China got lucky by being able to institute severe restrictions on account of being a dictatorship.
    Once it gets a foothold in PNG it will be a real worry, given the lack of medical facilities and cultural issues.

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