By Miriam Zarriga in Port Moresby
The Papua New Guinea government has clarified that 175 workers from China who have arrived in Port Moresby from the Philippines had complied with all covid-19 entry requirements and hygiene protocols.
National Pandemic Response Controller David Manning said the Chinese workers had been working on government projects in PNG and had gone home for a break before the pandemic struck.
But they were unable to return until yesterday because of international flight restrictions.
Two more confirmed covid-19 cases were reported – one in Port Moresby and one in Morobe – with the national total now 271.
The Port Moresby man is a 28-year-old man from East Boroko.
The returning Chinese workers arrived on a Philippines Airlines flight around noon on Thursday and were whisked away in buses to their hotels for the 14-day quarantine.
“Their arrival is not part of any repatriation exercise,” Manning said.
‘All protocols followed’
“All protocols were followed. It included testing prior to their arrival and isolation.
“And when they arrived, they automatically go into a 14-day quarantine in authorised hotels (as required) in the new normal measures.”
He said the workers had returned to complete government projects.
“They are not here as trade store owners (or) other smaller investments. They will all be here for the next six to 12 months. No crew-change for them,” Manning said.
“We have taken all precautions to ensure we do not put [PNG] people at risk, hence the stringent restrictions and testing regime prior to arrival and during quarantine.”
He said the 175 were construction managers and workers of major Chinese state-owned enterprises engaged in major government infrastructure including a hydro-power station, provincial airport redevelopments, highway constructions and construction of the National Court and Supreme Court building.
The projects are funded by international funding institutions such as the Asian Development Bank.
“The funding will be cancelled should we fail to complete these projects on time for whatever reason. We do not want this to happen as these are important projects that will have a positive impact on our people and country,” Manning said.
He said the country must return to normalcy with as little disruption as possible.
Manning added that other expatriate workers involved in important government projects around the country would be returning too.
“However, these will be done under stringent control measures,” he said.
Manning said new measures were in place for international travel.
“No person is permitted to board an aircraft bound for Papua New Guinea unless they have been tested for the Covid-19 within a seven-day period prior to boarding an aircraft, have been tested for the Covid-19 using real time reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests (and) their tests have returned negative for the Covid-19.”
Miriam Zarriga is a reporter for The National newspaper of Port Moresby. This article is republished with permission.