PNG police chief warns PMVs ‘mask up or face being pulled off roads’

PMC in Papua New Guinea
Tough covid protocols warning to Papua New Guinean PMVs ... the core means of public transport in the country. Image: The National

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

As the covid-19 coronavirus infections continue to rise seemingly unabated, Papua New Guinea’s National Pandemic Response Controller David Manning has acted to tackle a root cause of the public health crisis – public motor vehicle (PMV) drivers, crew and their passengers.

On Tuesday, Papua New Guinea reported a total of 351 new covid-19 cases, raising the national total of confirmed cases to 4109, reports The National.

This is an increase of 1021 cases over a period of six days.

There were also two new deaths, raising the death toll to 39. And Police Commissioner Manning issued a stern warning to all owners, operators, drivers and crew of PMVs nationwide to strictly comply with covid-19 protocols or risk being pulled off the road and deregistered.

“I am giving PMV owners and operators until 4pm tomorrow [Wednesday] the opportunity to get masks and hand sanitisers, and proper equipment for cleaning buses while in operation,” he said.

“They are also to ensure all passengers who board their vehicles were masked.

“By 4pm, PMVs who did not follow these simple measures will be pulled off the road.

“The buses and trucks will be impounded and they may lose their licences to operate.

‘Duty to follow protocols’
“PMV operators, drivers and crew members have a duty to follow all covid-19 health protocols and ensure their passengers comply as well.

“We all need to do our part to mitigate and stop the spread of the virus.”

A total of 60,680 people in PNG have been tested for the covid-19. Of these, 4109 tested positive.

The samples pending results at the laboratory stood at 2539.

Of the 351 new cases on Tuesday, 51 percent were asymptomatic.

This meant that many people did not know they had the virus and were passing it onto others unknowingly.

Symptoms include coughing, fever, headache, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills and muscle aches.

The new cases came from 11 provinces: Western (166), National Capital District (84); Eastern Highlands (39); Morobe (20); Southern Highlands (17); Western Highlands (9); East Sepik (6); New Ireland (4); Jiwaka (3); Gulf (1); and, Enga (1).

Two new deaths
The two new deaths were from Western – a 52-year-old man – while the other, also a male, aged 44, came from Jiwaka.

This is Western’s second confirmed death due to the covid-19 and Jiwaka’s first.

Four exported cases were detected for PNG with two identified in hotel quarantine in Sydney, New South Wales.

The third case was detected in hotel quarantine in Cairns, Queensland. He travelled from Western.

The fourth case was detected in hotel quarantine in New Zealand.

Western began reporting cases since last year and is the province with the second highest reported confirmed cases, registering its first death on Monday.

Commissioner Manning sent his condolences to the family, saying: “It is not easy to report the deaths.

‘Take care of yourself’
“We encourage everyone to take care of yourself.

“Please, I urge everyone to ensure they are following the health measures in the Niupela Pasin.

“This message is not only for the people living in towns and urban areas.

“It is for everyone, including those living rural areas.

“The virus is spread from person to person and in a country like ours, most people do not come for tests until they are sick, and by that time, the virus has spread to other people.

“Therefore, we do not know how far it has spread to the rural areas.”

The National articles are republished with permission.

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