More covid cases in PNG take total to 91 – health workers still a concern

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Controller David Manning
PNG's Pandemic Controller David Manning (left) and Prime Minister James Marape ... investigation into Chinese mine worker vaccination claim. Image: PNG PM Media Unit

By RNZ Pacific

Nineteen more cases of covid-19 have been confirmed in Papua New Guinea, taking the total number so far in the country to 91.

The Pandemic Response Controller, David Manning, announced the new cases in the capital Port Moresby where almost 80 of PNG’s cases had been confirmed in just over two weeks.

Two covid-related deaths had been confirmed to date, while 51 people were considered active cases.

READ MORE: Al Jazeera coronavirus live updates – Pandemic iikely to be lengthy, warns WHO

Another case was confirmed earlier this week in PNG’s second city of Lae, a health worker who had flown from Moresby to attend a workshop with around 70 colleagues who had subsequently been isolated and tested.

The high number of health workers or officials and staff from Port Moresby General Hospital among the current surge in confirmed cases was a major concern for PNG authorities.

The government insisted there was enough personal protection equipment for all health workers in the country.

But Prime Minister James Marape suggested that more rigid protocol regarding use of PPE would be introduced to ensure it was effective for frontline workers.

Two-week lockdown in capital
Earlier this week, he announced a two-week lockdown in the capital in a bid to contain transmission of covid-19, admitting the virus was now widespread.

Meanwhile, Manning, who is also the police commissioner, said that to date more than 10,470 people had been tested for covid-19, with hundreds of results still pending.

As well as a number of sub-districts, authorities had identified clusters of cases in Port Moresby General Hospital, the National Health Department, and the National Control Centre overseeing the pandemic response.

As of this weekend, health officials had set up clinics for screening of patients in identified hotspot areas.

Manning said that with broader community testing over the next 10 days, officials would have a clearer picture of the outbreak.

An Australian health crisis response team was due in the country this weekend, along with extra World Health Organisation staff, to help PNG work to assert some control on the unfolding crisis.

New Zealand is also supporting St John’s Ambulance to establish a drive-through testing clinic at the country’s main isolation facility at the Rita Flynn Sports Centre in Boroko.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

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