By REBECCA KUKU, SAMUEL BARIASI and ROSELYN ELLISON
THE East New Britain woman tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday has requested people to leave her family out of the “disheartening stigma” and to let her deal with it alone.
The woman, 40, a health volunteer worker with the provincial health authority who had been on the frontline during the Covid-19 awareness, was tested positive on Monday.
She became the second confirmed case in the country since the global pandemic crisis began.
“I am in isolation and working with all to address this,” she said in a message relayed through a friend yesterday.
“I am on medication. I expected the stigma and I can deal with it because I know what HIV/Aids patients (who she often deals with in her work) go through. I am just disappointed in the way my family has been treated.”
Prime Minister James Marape also warned people yesterday to stop stigmatising persons tested positive with Covid-19.
He said the woman in Kokopo had been taken care of “and her footprint is being mapped so that appropriate care is provided”.
“It is a genuine cause for concern for us and we will establish her source of contact and the impact of that case on people in Kokopo and East New Britain province,” he said.
“The provincial response team is stepping up the response to contain it from spreading.”
He said the woman was “doing well” and urged people not to be “careless and hurtful to each other”.
Police Minister Bryan Kramer earlier urged people not to create “stigma” by posting the woman’s photos on social media.
Kramer warned that creating stigma, panic and fear would not help the overall fight against Covid-19.
The woman is from the Raluana local level government (LLG) of Kokopo district which has been in a lockdown since Monday afternoon.
She underwent her second test yesterday and is expecting the result today.
“I never went overseas, or travelled domestically. The last time I travelled was in October last year,” she said.
She said she was able to deal with the stigma associated with such ailments as she had been an advocator against it in her work.
“I thank all my family and friends for the love they have shown to me during this time,” she said.
“I wish everyone well and I believe that we can make it out of this, and we will.”
One of her friends described her as cheerful and a woman with a great personality.
The friend supported Marape’s comments and called on authorities to mete out harsh penalties on those who had been harassing the woman’s family.
“She needs all the support. We are Papua New Guineans and we must stand together. The stigmatising must be stopped immediately,” the friend said.