No case of coronavirus in PNG: Health Minister

Health Minister Jelta Wong says Papua New Guinea has no case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) but is on heightened alert to detect any possible entry into the country.

“PNG is considered high risk of importing the disease into the country and because of our limited capacity and resources, the risk of spread is high in the event that the virus enters the country,” the Minister said in a statement released this afternoon.  

The Minister said the National Department of Health has activated its preparedness and response mechanisms and has put in place the following measures:  

  • Hotline +675 71960813 is activated for public to report travellers from China who have symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath)
  • Airport measures that include advisory to arriving passengers through the airlines and filling up of health declaration forms. We have also airlines screening passengers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Manila before they board the aircraft.
  • We are coordinating with airlines operators for measures in case a passenger gets sick on board an aircraft.
  • A Health Desk will be assigned at the Jackson’s International Airport and we are currently recruiting health workers to manage the health desks. We have provided personal protective equipment (PPE) to the airport staff.
  • An isolation area (Ward 7 in Port Moresby General Hospital) is being prepared as the designated ward for any suspected case. Anyone suspected of the novel coronavirus (2019nCoV) will be isolated as soon as detected at Jackson’s International Airport and transported to the Port Moresby General Hospital.
  • The PNG Institute of Medical Research (PNG IMR) virology laboratory is designated to test for novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
  • A trained rapid response team will be mobilised to conduct case investigation and contact tracing.
  • Advisory on the prevention measures have been disseminated to the public.  

“I want to further clarify and reiterate that Papua New Guinea has no case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). We are actively monitoring the health of any possible passengers arriving in the country to ensure they do not have symptoms,” stated Wong.

“There is no travel and trade restrictions. There is no ban for travellers to come to PNG but we have put in place measures to screen sick passengers. We enjoin travellers to self-report if they feel ill.  

“I urge the public to be responsible. Share prevention measures. We have them in our social media platform. Do not spread fake information or rumours. Call the hotline if you need information.”  

Protect yourself and your family through hand and respiratory hygiene and safe food practices:  

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
  • When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
  • The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
Press release