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A total of 6000 people so far have been screened for the coronavirus since January 23, says Papua New Guinea Acting Health Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala.
For travellers from China, he said, he was unsure of how many people were screened.
“110 persons were of interest due to their travel history and three people with travel history investigated and samples have been collected and sent to the lab for verification,” he said.
“This needs to be followed up and this is where funding will be needed.
“The certified laboratory for such testing to be done is the PNG Institute of Medical Research (IMR).”
World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Dr Luo Dapeng said the coronavirus was a new virus and the development of the vaccines for this virus was a challenge for scientists at the moment.
“WHO are now calling on global scientists to work out the vaccines but it will take time, we don’t know when this will be developed as it is different from other pandemic influenza outbreaks,” he said.
“There is no specific medicine to cure this disease.”
Dr Dakulala said the rapid response team consisting of trained surveillance officers was working to follow up on persons under investigation who are at risk due to travel history.
He said the department’s issue was the capacity of the health workers that needed to be stepped up should PNG got into the situation where the virus hits PNG in a big way.
“Currently there are more than 10 people who are working on a shift at the airport site to screen incoming passengers from overseas,” Dr Dakulala said.
“We are trying to ensure that there is adequate numbers to enable that so workers don’t have to miss out on any flights because the coordination of that has been an issue.
“We are planning to step up in this area to ensure none of the planes that come in are missed out and the screening process is done in the best way they can.”
He said the help desk at the airports as well as sea ports was facing the same issue. Dr Dakulala said there were three main ports that were screening and they were Motukea, Lae and Rabaul.
“All the provinces have asked to mount their response in the stepping up process in case PNG has a case, Provincial Health Authorities (PHA’s) also step up their response too,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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