In his update, Health Minister Jelta Wong said preliminary report received has identified 28 close contacts among family members, workmates and health workers, with nine of them as persons under investigation.
Three rapid response teams composed of epidemiologists, doctors, nurses, infection prevention and control specialists, logisticians and other personnel have been deployed to ENB.
“These teams are doing contact tracing, isolating and treating anyone who is sick, collecting samples, quarantining contacts and maintaining order in the community as responders do their work,” Wong stated.
“As of now, our priority is to identify the source of infection and be able to ascertain the extent of transmission.
“The affected village is on complete lockdown. We had to do this aggressive measure to prevent the spread of infection while our experts conduct their investigation.
“I appeal to the public, especially to the communities, this community needs our support and compassion. I know you are worried but stigmatisation is not a solution. Stigmatisation will worsen the situation.”
The Minister further reminded Papua New Guineans about the global picture:
* Globally, there are now almost 1.3 million people infected with COVID-19, with more than 72,000 deaths. In the Western Pacific region where Papua Guinea belongs to, we have about 11,500 cases, with more than 3,800 deaths.
* The increasing number of cases and deaths reported everyday highlights that COVID-19 remains to be a high risk to Papua New Guinea. Every country is part of the global community and our country shares the risk with the world.
* COVID-19 is now in our country. The fact that the infection was reported in East New Britain highlights that the virus can strike us anywhere – even in the most unexpected place.
* We have seen that even developed countries with the most advanced health systems are facing great challenges.
* Our vulnerability is affected by two factors: our limited capacity to manage a large-scale emergency such as a pandemic of this magnitude and the geographical distribution of our persons of interest.
* It is one big reason for us to launch an aggressive and vigorous response – and the declaration of the State of Emergency facilitates that process.
The State of Emergency (SOE) and Government response to date:
* The State of Emergency will become our new normal for the next months of this pandemic, and even more.
* This is necessary as we address the limitations of our system – and the challenges of competing with other countries for supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).
* We are scaling us as we go - we improvise as we respond.
* But Government needs help of the public.
* Make a difference in your lives NOW. Support your country by taking care of your health. You know how to protect yourselves from COVID-19, do it and be a hero of health for yourself, for your family, for your community and for your country.
“I know this is an extraordinary time for the country and the world – but I believe in the Papua New Guineans’ resilience to get through this crisis together. Let us look after each other.
“Let us promote facts, not fear; let us offer support, not stigma,” added Wong.
(A near empty Kokopo)