Contact tracing begins for first Bougainville covid case

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Clement Totavun APR
Bougainville's Deputy Controller Clement Totavun ... "At the moment [the covid case] is stable." Image: NBC News

By Patrick Makis in Buka

Contact tracing has begun for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville’s first covid-19 case.

The 22-year-old male, who had returned from Port Moresby on an Air Niugini flight on July 29, is stable and is being isolated in Arawa town.

ABG’s Deputy Controller, Health Secretary Clement Totavun, said the contact tracing would include all passengers who were on the same flight as the case and those whom he came into contact with in Bougainville.

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“Based on the assessment by our medical team – because they will be up in Arawa for at least a week – if any changes happen to him, we will move him up to the Suhin facility or admit him at the hospital if he develops any serious symptoms,” Totavun said.

“At the moment because he is stable, we will look at isolating him and checking his families and contacts as well.”

Buka Airport APR
Buka Airport … a search for the covid-19 case. Image: NBC News

Bougainville State of Emergency Controller Francis Tokura will be issuing new orders on the restriction of movement of people across the region.

Emergency authorities in Bougainville had been working around the clock to locate and isolate the first confirmed case of the virus in the region.

Samples from 55 passengers
Samples from all 55 passengers who had arrived on the same flight were taken by health emergency response staff at the airport and sent for testing at the PNG Institute of Medical Research in Goroka.

Tokura said that out of those samples one had returned a positive result.

Totavun has appealed to Bougainvilleans not to panic.

“This case was not symptomatic at the time of sample collection – meaning he didn’t display any symptoms, he was fine,” he said.

“But because of our requirements of surveillance at the airport, everyone has to go through sample collection and because he had come into contact with cases in Port Moresby he had got the virus.”

Patrick Makis is the NBC News reporter on Bougainville.

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