Five ENB villages locked down

As of last night, five villages in East New Britain have been locked down, and will remain so for the next 20 days.

Since the confirmation of the first case yesterday, police moved to lock down the Raluana LLG villages of Ialakua, Baravon, Unamurmur, Vunatagia and Bitabaur.

ENB provincial police commander (PPC), Joseph Tabali, told this newsroom that the 40-year-old woman, who is from that area, has complied with their instruction to remain in her house, while her village and four others have been closed off. 

“No one is coming out to go to Kokopo or Rabaul,” said PPC Tabali. 

“While on lockdown, our medical team will go to the five villages and do medical checks.

“I appeal to people, for your own safety and public at large, stay at home.”

The LLG presidents and ward members of the villages have also been directed to block off their areas to prevent others from crossing over.

The PPC said there was widespread panic when news broke of the case, but he urged everyone to stand firm in their faith.

“We are Christians, we will pray for God to help us,” he stated.

He said measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus included the blocking off of the New Britain Highway, small crafts prevented from commuting between New Ireland and ENB as well as to and from Kokopo and Duke of York.

PMVs stopped operating today while the PPC said there should not be any large gatherings of more than five people.

Furthermore, new curfew times will be imposed starting this evening, from 8pm to 6am.

“If people are caught, we will arrest them and charge them under the State of Emergency Act,” warned the PPC.

“All the main markets have been closed while we will allow roadside markets near villages. They must only sell fresh produce; no cooked food like sausages our ENB’s favourite – totogor – as well as betelnut, kambang (lime), smoke and burus.

“A number of shops have been instructed to put in place handwashing facilities for their customers. Our police station at Ralum already have theirs in place. I have instructed my police station commanders at Kokopo, Kerevat and Rabaul to do the same.”

He further cautioned that there is a roadblock at Kuradui, hence commuters travelling to Kokopo from Rabaul, and vice versa, will need to use Burma Road.

The province’s hotline numbers are: Landline – 982 5355 and mobile – 7144 1383/7843 1784.

The police response team is based at the Butuwin Health Office.

Carmella Gware