State of Emergency Controller and Police Commissioner David Manning said yesterday the country was coronavirus-free after the man had left for Australia recently.
“As of today, we have not received (another) positive case. So technically we are covid-19-free as the initial positive case has already left our shores,” he said.
Manning said the country had come a long way in terms of implementing a response to the global pandemic.
“It was not a police plan or a military plan in dealing with this covid-19. It was a health plan, an emergency and response plan of which the State of Emergency allowed the security overlay to make it a bit more efficient in responding,” he said.
Manning said tests conducted on the people who came into contact with the confirmed-case man all came back “negative”.
“The confirmed case had flown into Port Moresby from Singapore (with) 83 people on board the plane,” he said.
He said from the 83, 46 were identified as persons of interest. Tests conducted on them came back negative.
“From the 13 on the PX208 flight (to Lae), seven people were identified as persons of interest and tests done on them. Again all tests came back as negative.”
He said the four health workers who came in contact with the 45-year-old were also tested.
“All four came back negative,” he said.
Manning said more than 29,000 people had been screened at the ports with 4,000 people cleared and 1000-plus still under surveillance. He said this showed that the strategies put in place by the Government had been successful.
“I thank the communities around the country for their cooperation, and the hardworking staff of the department of health, provincial health authorities and provincial police commanders.”
Nurses waiting for response to grievances raised with PM
By LULU MARK
NURSES have returned to work after a protest last week but are still waiting for the Government response to their list of grievances.
PNG Nurses Association president Frederick Kebai said they met with Prime Minister James Marape last Friday to discuss their concern over the lack of personal protective equipment at the Port Moresby General Hospital and training for nurses as part of the Covid-19 response.
Included in their demand also is the appointment of a chief nursing officer in the Health Department and the payment of insurance and risk allowance for nurses.
He said Marape assured them that their grievances would be looked into by the Health Department and the Department of Personnel Management.
Kebai said the protest last week was not only for the benefit of the nurses but also for the good of patients and the community.
“Where there is no doctor in the remote area, you will find a nurse. These people are the front-line health workers,” he said.
“When their welfare and safety is covered, there is continuity of health care delivery.”
Kebai said the protest was a success because their concerns were heeded by the health secretary and minister and Marape himself.
“Now we want them to give a written response to our petition, followed by its implementation.”
He said the nurses were happy that their voice was finally being heard.
Meanwhile, Kebai said nurses in Maprik, East Sepik were concerned that they lacked tools to deal with people who recently crossed the border and listed as persons of interest.
They have been advised to raise it with the Provincial Health Authority as soon as possible.
Eateries may be allowed to operate
By Rebecca Kuku and SYLVESTER WEMURU
RESTAURANTS may be reopened and allowed to serve alcohol but on the condition that they implement health safety measures against the transmission of Covid-19, an official says.
Police Minister Bryan Kramer, representing Prime Minister James Marape on covid-19 matters, said discussions with businesses on that and related issues were ongoing.
“The (current) liquor ban applies to all clubs, restaurants, and shops,” he said.
“(But) discussions are underway to allow restaurants to serve alcohol. The restaurants will have to put in place health safety measures to stop the transmission of Covid-19.”
He said the ban on betel nut trading and the operation of public buses would continue in Port Moresby.
Kramer also said the ban on bus services was to stop people from moving around while the process of contact tracing continued.
“A decision was made by Governor Powes Parkop and city authorities to ban PMVs operating to stop people from moving around,” he said.
Kramer said the ban on bus services would be for the duration of the national emergency.
The ban on betel nut is also vital as it is “the fastest way to transmit Covid-19” in the country, he said.
“It will continue in the coming weeks as Covid-19 is still a global pandemic.”
Meanwhile, 72 bags of betel nut confiscated by the Port Moresby Water Police on Sunday were dumped at sea yesterday.
The skippers of the three boats transporting the bags and the betel nut owners were released from police custody yesterday.
Officer in charge of the Port Moresby Water Police Senior Sergeant Justus Baupo said officers confiscated the betel nut and impounded the three boats.
He said they would continue their sea patrols along the border with Central.
Online application for passes in the pipeline, says Kramer
By Rebecca Kuku
THE Government is discussing with the PNG Business Council how to implement an online application for passes for essential workers.
Police Minister Bryan Kramer, representing Prime Minister James Marape on Covid-19 matters, said the passes would allow essential workers and services to cross from one province to another during the lockdown.
He said they were discussing the shipping industry as well.
“We are putting together a schedule that will be managed from the National Operation Command Centre so that we can see in real time ships coming to PNG, their estimated time of arrival and estimated time of departure to avoid disruptions in shipping.
“This is important because ships bring in food and other essential services allowing the country to continue operating,” he said.
Kramer said they planned to introduce a new system where there would be no contact.
“Ships can pull up at our ports but no one leaves the ships. This is to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission,” he said.
Marape wants land borders monitored
By REBECCA KUKU
PRIME Minister James Marape has warned people illegally entering the country through the borders with Indonesia and Australia that they will be prosecuted.
Marape said he had discussed the matter with Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, calling for tougher measures to be taken in policing the borders to stop illegal crossing.
He said any Papua New Guinean caught on the other side of the borders would be dealt with by law enforcement authorities in Indonesia and Australia.
“This is a warning to those vanilla sellers crossing the borders despite the 14-day lockdown.
“If you are caught, you will be penalised and serve a jail term.”
Marape called on the Controller and Police Commissioner David Manning to be tougher on illegal border crossings.
Police in Manus had intercepted a foreign yacht near an island in the province, with an Australian couple onboard.
Provincial police commander Chief Inspector David Yapu said the couple were sailing from Indonesia to East New Britain when they were intercepted.
Marape said people who broke the country’s 14-day lockdown directives must be dealt with severely.
Manning said he was aware of the case and would look into it.