Reports by Charles Moi, Aileen Kwaragu, PETER ESILA, PATRICIA KEAMO
THE Catholic Archdiocese of Port Moresby has suspended all church activities until further notice.
Cardinal Sir John Ribat instead invited church members to watch mass live on television every Sunday at 9am until everything has returned to normal. They can also hear the mass on NBC Radio and Radio Maria.
“You will follow these live streams from now onwards every Sunday,” he said.
“I am inviting all of you to be with me in the Eucharistic celebrations to be united in prayer for healing and the end of this pandemic.”
He said priests could celebrate mass without a congregation.
“I would like to reiterate that we keep our strong sense of responsibility to respect and love ourselves and others in this Covid-19 situation, with the increase in positive cases and widespread transmission of the virus in the National Capital District and other parts of the country,” he said.
He called on everyone to pray for healing.
“Let us all pray for healing from this coronavirus. Let us also remember those who are working hard to find a cure, a vaccine for this virus.
“Let us also remember those who have died, suffered, those who have lost their jobs and families who are facing difficulties and ask the Lord in His own ways to be with us and bring His healing.
“We entrust our country and its people to the Lord’s protection, to protect and lead all the nurses, doctors and all the health workers to fight against every disease especially the Covid-19.
“May the power of God be their strength and the love of God be their inspiration to serve with love, protect and defend all the people in this country and the world from sickness.”
Get tested, says patient released from centre
A MAN who recently recovered from the Covid-19 has urged people to go for testing when they have flu-like symptoms.
“Stop being a hero (and) just get yourself tested,” Christopher Jaminen said.
Jaminen, 47, from East Sepik, was cleared to go home from the Rita Flynn isolation center last Friday. He went to Rita Flynn on Wednesday July 29 after experiencing throat irritation, coughing, a headache, a feeling of nausea and eye pain.
“I experienced these symptoms of flu especially in the early morning and afternoon for five days,” Jaminen said.
On Aug 1, he was advised by an official at Rita Flynn that he had tested positive for the Covid-19.
“At 4pm that day, I checked into the Rita Flynn. I was given an open but separate cubicle with a bed and beddings and mosquito net. Cleaning and regular fumigation by the medical team is a standard and daily activity.”
Jaminen said the meals were good.
“Bottled water is standard day or night. People (from all over) are here: PNG, Filipino, Australians,” he said.
He spent seven days at the center drinking lots of water and hot tea. He also did exercises inside.
“Initially I had fear of collapsing and dying but the security and welfare of my family and loved ones overcame any fear I had of the virus.
“I subjected myself to testing, isolation and treatment to protect my family and loved ones,” he said.
He thanked family, friends and work colleagues for their support, and the Rita Flynn center doctors, nurses, medical assistants, security guards and the St Johns Ambulance staff for their service.
“You guys and girls are the best. Real brave hearts, caring, compassionate and hard working,” he said.
Market closed for clean-up, but vendors complain of short notice
ONE of the biggest and popular markets in Port Moresby was closed last Friday to allow the city and health authorities to clean it.
National Pandemic Response Controller David Manning issued an order last week that the Boroko market be closed because of the Covid-19 community transmission in the city.
Market controller Mala Evera said vendors who were not aware of the plan to close the market were disappointed with the lack of notice.
“We had vendors who arrived from Central with food to sell but were sent back. It was a waste (of their time and money). There had nowhere else to sell,” he said
He said since the 14-day restrictions were imposed, everyone using the market were wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining social distancing.
“The closure came without a warning,” he said.
National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop said the vendors could use other markets in the city such as at Gordon and Hohola.
“They must learn to cooperate for our health. Gordon market won’t be a problem because space exists,” Parkop said.
Shutdown extension likely, says Parkop
NATIONAL Capital District Governor Powes Parkop says because of the spike in confirmed Covid-19 cases in the capital city, he believes there will be an extension to the 14-day shutdown.
“In terms of whether there will be an extension to the lockdown, we have not discussed it yet. But it will depend on the advice of high-profile doctors such as Professor Glen Mola and Professor Isi Kevau,” he said.
He said it was up to Prime Minister James Marape and the National Control Centre (NCC) to make a decision on that. He also warned that there were not enough Covid-19 testing kits in the city.
“There is a possibility that we will run out of testing kits. I have been recommending to the National Control Centre that random testing will cause a shortage of testing kits,” he said.
“It is best we do selective testing only on those who have pre-existing medical conditions.”
He also said the rate of recovery of Covid-19 cases at the Rita Flynn isolation centre was very high.
“People must be informed that the recovery rate at the Rita Flynn centre is very good,” he said.
Holidaying students clean up neighbourhood
A GROUP of primary school students at Idubada took the initiative of cleaning their neighbourhood during the lockdown in Port Moresby.
While social services were closed with restriction on public bus service operation, the students from Hagara and Baruni primary, who are also SDA pathfinders, used that time to do something productive for their community.
As early as 6am last Friday, the students gathered with their shovels and rakes to clean the drains and collect rubbish along the road. Most of them did so without using gloves.
Community women leader Maxis Siso said the increased cases of Covid-19 in Port Moresby was scary.
“We as a community need to support each other in any measure to keep us safe from the pandemic,” she said.
“Seeing our children taking the lead to keep us healthy is a very positive drive.”
Resident Joe Kaupa expressed concern for the students as many were cleaning the drains without gloves or masks.
He called on the National Capital District Covid-19 team to assist them with personal protective equipment so they can keep their community free from the Covid-19.
“If the authority can supply us with thermometers and masks to keep our community safe from the pandemic, that would be great,” he said.
The students are also doing awareness in the community on the importance of wearing masks as many people are still ignoring this directive.
Restriction on domestic flights announced
PEOPLE planning to fly to other parts of the country must get approval, says National Pandemic Response Controller David Manning.
He issued last Friday an order on domestic travel: “No person may travel by aircraft from one province to another unless provided an exemption in writing by the controller or his delegate.”
Only cargo and medevac flights are exempted.
Travelling by foot, vehicle or vessels between provinces are not restricted.
Acting Health Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala said the restrictions were important “as we work with the provincial health authorities” in containing the Covid-19 transmission.
“Contact tracing by the provinces have indicated that the transmission was from people who had recently been in Port Moresby,” he said.
“These include the confirmed cases in Western, West Sepik and Southern Highlands.
“All domestic flights must comply with hygiene and social distancing restrictions and all passengers must complete an Air Passenger Travel Form which is to be submitted to the Provincial Health Authority on arrival.
“Roadblocks and restrictions of movement by foot and vessels will be authorised by the Controller.”
Air Niugini in a statement said passengers who had already booked tickets prior to Aug 10 for travel that day onwards were allowed to travel without having to get approval.
Air Niugini said outbound international travellers did not require approval, only inbound international travellers.
“All passengers intending to book domestic travel from Monday (today) morning will be provided an Approval Request Form to complete,” Air Niugini said.
“This form is available online www.airniugini.com.pg and at Air Niugini sales offices and travel agents.”