Health dept confirms measles in provinces

The Health Department has confirmed that two measles cases have been identified in the country.

A three-year-old girl from Gulf Province and a 23-year-old male from New Ireland were diagnosed with measles and were confirmed positive on the 22nd of December, 2019.

In a press conference today, Secretary for Health, Pascoe Kase, confirmed the detection of two measles cases in Gulf and New Ireland Province since their last update in December 2019.

Secretary Kase said a toddler in Kikori District of Gulf, and a 23-year-old detainee in the Kavieng Correctional Institution were both confirmed positive by the Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) in the Port Moresby General Hospital.

He said apart from the positive cases, other suspected cases were also detected in both provinces but they are awaiting lab results for confirmation.

“For Gulf Province, test was done for a total of four suspected cases in Kuri logging camp in Kikori, Gulf Province, with one child, a three-year-old, tested positive for measles. In the New Ireland Province, 13 samples from 13 suspected measles cases were tested with a 23-year-old male tested positive for measles in the Kavieng Prison,” Kase said.

In response to the detection in both provinces, Secretary Kase said they have issued funds and measles vaccines to Gulf Province and are waiting for the New Ireland Provincial Health Authority to finalise their plan for support.

“We have also advised the Provincial Emergency Operations Centres to be fully operational and functional to support the National Emergency Operations Centre… investigating disease outbreaks and to report timely to the National Level,” stated Kase.

“We have worked with the Gulf Provincial Health Authority to finalise their micro-plan and have released K211,000 to support them with measles investigation and immunisation of children.

“We are working the New Ireland PHA to finalise their micro-plan as well.”

In the meantime, the Health Secretary has advised all PNG citizens to not panic and has urged that children from 6 months to 15 years old must complete three doses of the measles vaccination in order to be protected.

(Article by Jamie Haro – third year UPNG Journalism student)

Jamie Haro