In Papua New Guinea, a positive case was traced and diagnosed for the COVID-19 Omicron variant. According to National Pandemic Response Controller, David Manning, the man came to PNG last December after travelling from South Africa via London and Hong Kong.
However, Mr Manning said the man had to undergo testing while in quarantine and has fully recovered.
“While we have undertaken the contact tracing, there have been no further close contact infections, but considering how far the man travelled, the Government is working on the assumption that the Omicron variant is now active in PNG,” said Controller Manning.
The National Pandemic Response Deputy Controller, Dr Daoni Esorom, said there were 58 cases of COVID-19 administered at Port Moresby General Hospital on Thursday.
Dr Esorom said this surge was most likely of the Omicron variant, however, results from samples will verify which variant has been transmitted in this surge.
Omnicron is indicated by its rapid transmission rate, showing an increase in re-infections but admission rates remain low. Still with large numbers of people being infected, it continues to strain the healthcare systems.
The Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (MESAC) advised the National Control Centre (NCC) that the supplementary vaccinations are recommended in the country. People, who had their primary vaccination more than six months ago, should receive a booster dose to enhance effective protection. MESAC’s advice is that the booster should ideally be of the same vaccine as the person originally received, but this could be changed for those who have received AstraZeneca or Sinopharm.
The WHO emphasized that the objective of a booster dose is to reduce infection by restoring the initial vaccine’s effectiveness. The current COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide strong protection against fatal outcomes.
Experts say reducing infections is important, both to protect the most vulnerable and lessen pressure on health services. However, those who remain unvaccinated or have underlying medical illnesses, remain having a higher risk of infection.