THE total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Papua New Guinea stands at 16, with the latest case announced on Friday afternoon by the Prime Minister.
Authorities announced on Thursday that, the four staff members of the Central Public Health Laboratory were tested positive.
The 16th person is also a laboratory worker there.
PNG’s first reported imported case was on March 20 from an expatriate.
By the end of April, PNG had a record of eight cases.
Then within the last 30 days from June 18 to Friday, authorities announced eight new cases, a sudden jump to 16.
The ninth was a male Australian Defence Force soldier, 10th was a female PNG soldier and 11th a close contact of the female soldier
While PNG has only 16 cases registered in the WHO statistics, it is important that we as a society do not ignore Covid-19. It is best to be vigilant and cautious.
It is for everyone’s benefit that the measures – from social distances to getting into crowded areas and the simplest reminder of personal hygiene still remain.
The effects of this global pandemic is taking its toll on the economy.
Many have been laid off from their jobs – those formally engaged in a paid job.
Economic trading has resumed. Business returned to normal but we should learn to abide by the proper protocols to strike the balance between protecting our health and the livelihood of people.
Sectors such as travel, tourism and construction would be particularly hard hit.
Most businesses have reviewed their strategies and assessing their operational risk.
Banks and other lenders may maintain or expand lending as a result of Government guarantees or pressure, or a combination of the two.
This will also put tremendous pressures on banks and firms in these countries.
The truth is that, there is a serious risk of defaults.
We can expect more economic pain as the virus containment measures continue to decrease economic activity.
The challenges of responding to the pandemic will change the economy and society for years to come, perhaps forever.
While we can’t compare PNG to developed nations, the Government should now use lessons from the Covid-19 and realign its focus to improving the health systems in the country, border securities, education and agriculture and road infrastructure.
Lessons learned from how China, South Korea and Singapore brought down rate of infections should be considered.
What they did aggressively is now being done world wide – early containment and social distancing.
Many countries have come with strategies in dealing with the effect of the pandemic and for PNG, we should now adjust to living with the Covid-19 for the rest of the year and maybe another year or so too. On Friday, the Government launched Niupela Pasin handbook that will provide basic guidelines on how the niupela pasin (new ways) can be done in PNG.
Our citizens should be told again and again to continue or seriously practice the health messages of:
- WASHING hands regularly for 20 seconds with soap and clean water;
- Cough or sneeze into flexed elbow;
- Do not touch mouth, nose and eyes;
- Practice social distancing of 1.5 meters;
- Do not go to crowded places; and,
- If you do not have a good reason to go out or move around, stay at home.
Remember, the coronavirus does not discriminate.