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It will be compulsory, starting Wednesday, for everyone in Port Moresby to wear masks in public, says Papua New Guinea National Pandemic Controller David Manning.
The directive comes as 31 more Covid-19 cases were confirmed in the capital city over the weekend, taking the city’s total to 55, and the national total to 62, as of 8pm Sunday.
“All persons working in a designated market, establishment or on public transport in which they interact in person with customers or in an enclosed space, must wear masks at all times,” Manning said.
“A person is exempted from these measures if he or she removes the masks or face covering to eat, drink or take medication.
“No person shall be permitted entry unless the person is wearing a mask or face covering in a manner which covers their mouth, nose and chin.”
A spokesman for the National Operations Centre told The National that the enforcement of the order was currently being worked out and would be made public.
“Relevant operation orders are being drafted to cater for this and other measures. We will advise in due course when these orders come out,” the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister James Marape told The National that the 20 new positive cases were from contact tracing of the recent cases. One, however, emerged from one of clinics in Port Moresby.
One new case was confirmed on Friday, followed by seven on Saturday and 23 Sunday.
Marape said most were currently in isolation at the Rita Flynn medical facility.
“As I indicated last week, the Covid-19 is on the rise in Port Moresby,” he said.
“The June Bubble where the ADF soldier plus his work mate at Murray Barracks and her contacts positive results showed presence of the virus in the city. Since then, we have continued our test on possible areas that is now picking up increasing presence of the coronavirus.”
Marape said PNG was on the level three stage of the Covid-19 where restrictions were placed on citizens to contain the spread.
He plans to call a National Security Council meeting today to discuss the recent surge.
“While the controller (Manning) has powers to make unilateral calls based on advice of our scientific and medical body, this medical crisis has wide ramifications,” Marape said.
“I am now calling a National Security Council meeting tomorrow (today) to look at options for the containment of this Covid-19.”
He urged citizens to take care “of your health, your family, your neighbours and your country”.
“It’s not time to play petty politics or find someone to blame, but for us to pull together to stop the Covid-19 from not spreading,” he said.
“I also thank all frontline workers assisting in this work. We will also be calling for volunteers if need be to put more hands and boots in this fight,” he said.... PACNEWS
Meanwhile, everyone in this country is urged to take some responsibility by adhering to the health measures to support the front line workers who are risking their lives to save lives.
UNICEF country Representative David Mcloughlin gave this message when handing over Personal Protective Equipment to the National Response on COVID-19.
“The front line workers are our champions – our heroes. They have a message for all of us and that is to take some responsibility because the pressure is enormous,” said Mcloughlin.
He said while serving at the front line they are also suffering and it is the duty of everyone to take some responsibility to minimise the infection rate and thereby protect them as well.
Mcloughlin handed over PPE worth K3 million (US$863,000) to the national response on Saturday which was received by Acting Health Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala.
These 631,000 PPE comprised of gloves, surgical masks, protective goggles, face shields, gowns, coveralls, shoe covers, caps and thermometers- were procured by UNICEF through funding support provided by the World Bank, Governments of Australia and Japan, and Newcrest Mining Limited to support the PNG Government’s response to COVID-19.
Dr Dakulala thanked the donors and said this biological warfare will be won with these kinds of partnerships.
“I believe we will win the war because we have our key people mobilised to get the job done. We will win the war because we have great partners,’’ he said, adding that the PPE will go to all frontline workers, including the security personnel.
At the handover were Satoshi Isono, Counsellor from the Japanese Embassy; Caitlyn Wilson, Deputy Australian High Commissioner, and Stanley Komunt, PNG Country Manager for Newcrest Mining Ltd.
Komunt said apart from giving financial support to UNICEF, the mine is also providing support to New Ireland and East New Britain provinces and recently to Central and NCD.
Sono said the COVID-19 pandemic is a social and economic threat to all countries and values the efforts of the PNG government and its partners such as UNICEF which is protecting both citizens and foreigners like himself.
“Japan has provided about US$1 million, roughly equivalent to K3.5 million in March to UNICEF PNG which has been used for PPE, medical tents, awareness goods such as poster or information at TV or newspaper. UNICEF has been making hand washing taps at 76 schools," said Sono.
He also said laughter and smile are good for the immune system so despite the stress, everyone should make an attempt to be happy.
Deputy Australian High Commissioner Caitlyn Wilson acknowledged the long-standing friendship and partnership between PNG and Australia, saying it was very much two ways and at this difficult time they needed to work more closely and treat each other as true partners.
She also commended the overall response in the country so far.
“We’ve certainly observed a very strong focus on disease surveillance, sensible control measures, and really impressive joint agency responses that again the work that you are doing alongside Commissioner Manning is a real testament to that agency work that we know is really critical,’ Wilson said.
She said Australia is mindful also of the economic stability and recovery in its partnership and would continue to work with PNG.
“We know at the moment that COVID-19 is here with us for some time. Whatever the future holds, Dr Dakulala, I can assure you that Australia will continue to stand together with PNG, to PNG’s excellent leadership," Wilson said.
Apart from buying and helping distribute PPEs, UNICEF is supporting the national response through a myriad of ways and will be going right down to the grassroots.
Its support to health covers Water and Hygiene, education, nutrition and protection of children, early essential care for mothers and new-borns.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PNG GOVT/PACNEWS
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