PNG’s deputy emergency chief warns Papua covid cases pose ‘great threat’

State of Emergency Deputy Controller Dr Paison Dakulala ... Papua New Guinea still in the covid-19 "danger zone". Image: NBC News screenshot

Pacific Media Centre

The dramatic daily increase of covid-19 coronavirus cases in West Papua poses a “great threat” to Papua New Guinea, says the country’s deputy emergency chief.

State of Emergency Deputy Controller and Acting Secretary for Health Dr Paison Dakulala said the Indonesian-ruled Papua region had seen an increase of 65 new covid-19 cases in the previous 24-hours, bringing the total to 686 confirmed cases.

Dr Dakulala said in a statement that the “alarming increase” means that PNG was still in the danger zone and people must not be complacent, reports NBC News.

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He said with the increase in the number of cases in West Papua, the PNG government is revisiting its strategies along the western border with Indonesia.

Dr Dakulala said that to date there had been no deaths in the country and the health team and security forces were on the ground ensuring that covid-19 transmission would not take place.

At this stage, PNG had had only eight confirmed cases of covid-19, the last case was reported about a month ago.

All eight people have since recovered.

Rising total of infections
The Jakarta Post reports that the total number of infections nationwide in Indonesia  yesterday was 23,851.

Speaking at a press conference, the Ministry of Health’s Disease Control and Prevention Director-General, Achmad Yurianto, said that 55 more people had died of the disease, taking the death toll to 1473.

Meanwhile, the Free Papua Movement (OPM) has denied that it was involved in the shooting of two members of the Intan Jaya regency covid-19 task force, claiming that the two men were shot by security forces.

“We want to emphasise that the people who shot the two medical workers were TNI [Indonesian Military] and National Police personnel. They are the culprits,” OPM spokesperson Sebby Sanbom said in a statement quoted by

“Indonesia must take responsibility.”

The two medical workers – identified as Amalek Bagau, 30, and Eniko Somou, 39 – were reportedly shot while delivering medical supplies to a remote area in Intan Jaya regency at about 4.30 pm local time last Friday.

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