Pacific Media Centre newsdesk
Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia have reported sharply rising Pacific statistics in the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
National Pandemic Response Controller David Manning reported in a statement yesterday that there were 29 new Papua New Guinean cases of the virus, taking the total of confirmed infections to 453, and one death in the previous 24 hours.
Manning said details of the death would be given later.
In Tahiti, RNZ Pacific reports health authorities cited a further
35 covid-19 cases, bringing the French-governed territory to a total total of 420 for the month.
In Papua New Guinea, 23 out of the 29 new cases were from Ok Tedi mine in Western Province, which has increased the total confirmed cases in that province to 166.
The remaining 6 are from the National Capital District, which now has a total of 268 confirmed cases.
In announcing the new cases, Manning repeated his call for health workers throughout the country to step up in their efforts to collect samples for testing for covid-19 to help show how far the virus has spread in the country.
Heed health measures plea
He also urged everyone to take heed of the health measures being introduced by the National Department of Health and partners, including the news media.
“Covid-19 is going to be with us for a long time. We all need to be aware of this and take care of our health as well as our loved ones,’’ he said.
He said experience from other countries, including China, showed that the most vulnerable were those with pre-existing medical conditions as well as the elderly. In PNG culture it was the responsibility of the children, or the younger population, to take care of the old.
“At a time when we don’t have medicine to treat covid-19, let’s all do what we can to prevent this virus from spreading further in the communities and the country.
“When you leave the home or go out, you have a responsibility to ensure you do not bring home the virus,” Manning said.
The health measures include wearing masks in public places and practising physical distancing by 1.5m in shops, banks, buildings and public motor vehicles (PMVs).
As of Friday, a total of 15,592 people had been tested for covid-19 in the country. Of this figure, 13,386 had tested negative.
West Papuan cases
Of the 453 positive cases, five had died, the latest being reported 24 hours earlier, while those who had recovered stood at 231. Those still active were 188.
The 11 provinces that have confirmed cases so far are: NCD (268), Central Province (6), Western Province (166) , Morobe (5), East New Britain (2), Eastern Highlands (1) , West Sepik (1), Southern Highlands (1) , Autonomous Region of Bougainville (1), New Ireland (1) and Milne Bay (1).
Meanwhile, Western Province’s closest neighbours – Indonesia’s provinces of Papua and West Papua – have each reported 23 and 9 new cases respectively in the previous 24 hours.
This has increased the total confirmed cases in the two provinces to 4429. West Papua also reported a death, bringing the death toll in the two provinces to 54.
The Western Pacific Region, in which PNG sits, reported 5099 confirmed cases from 14 countries and areas, bringing the total confirmed cases in the region to 476,133.
It also reported 147 deaths from 9 countries bringing the death toll in the region to 10,333.
10 in Tahitian hospitals
The latest figures in French Polynesia showed 10 people were in hospital, including two in intensive care.
The new outbreak has affected seven times more people than the first covid-19 wave from March to June.
Covid-19 began to spread again after the government last month opened the border to boost tourism and abolished quarantine requirements for arriving travellers, particularly from California in the United States.
According to the government, about a dozen cases concerned tourists while the vast majority was the result of local transmission.
The government gave an update on the tourism sector and said in the month from mid-July to mid-August there were 70 percent fewer tourists than in July 2019.
With flights resuming between Tahiti and France as well as the United States last month, more than 90 percent of the 7500 visitors were from these two countries.
Almost two thirds of them came from France, while just nine percent were neither French nor American.
Flights half full
Air Tahiti Nui, Air France, United Airlines and French Bee reported that their flights were on average about half full which was a larger load than expected.
The government said air links to and from South America remained abandoned for the time being while flights to Asia might restart in November.
Domestic air travel returned to about 68 percent of what it was a year ago.
Hotel occupancy rates were highest in Moorea at 60 percent, in part due to domestic travellers.
In Bora Bora and Tahaa, the figure varied between 35 and 50 percent while in Tahiti it was at the most 33 percent.
In New Zealand, RNZ News reports 11 new cases of covid-19 in the community were reported today.
The Health Ministry said that 10 of the new community cases had clear links to the ongoing Auckland cluster.
Six cases were connected to Mt Roskill Evangelical Church, including four people from one house and two who attended church services.