Third wave of COVID-19 possible in PNG

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There could be a possible third wave of COVID-19 in PNG, however, this will depend on the risk of importation of variants.

When asked to clarify about this potential third wave of COVID-19 in PNG, WHO PNG acting country representative Dr Anna Maalsen told Post Courier that they are currently keeping an eye on the testing and data reporting that is coming through and it is hard to say what the real situation is on the ground.

“When a virus replicates or makes copies of itself, it sometimes changes a little bit which is normal for a virus,” she said.

“These changes are called mutations.

“A virus with one or more new mutations is referred to as a variant of the original virus.

“Although we are seeing a definite decrease in trend in COVID-19 cases in PNG, what we do know is that has happened in other countries is that once we start to get relaxed, COVID-19 comes back.

“The things that we take into account when thinking about the potential of the third wave, is the risks of introduction of variants of concern.”

She said this is a risk against the border protection measures are put in place in PNG and being vigilant about and vaccination is also one of the key strategies to help us reduce the risk of importation of variants.

Dr Maalse said the faster the whole world can get vaccinated, the less chance we have in developing these variants and reducing the risk overall.

“Of course, we have poorest parts of the borders that we must always remain vigilant because we still have ongoing community transmission in places in PNG,” she said.

NCD Governor Powes Parkop said: “As long as the virus continues to exist in an active way in a community transmission, the risk of third wave of COVID-19 is high.

“The risk of the virus mutating and becoming more deadly is higher.

“For now, it is important to neutralise the virus by improving our immune system than stopping the transmission,” he said.

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea has recorded two new COVID-19 deaths and eight new cases on Tuesday 15 June, increasing the total number of deaths to 167 and total cases to 16,799.

Manus province recorded its first COVID-19 death. The death of a 72-year-old male and a 60-year-old female both with underlying comorbidities were reported as Manus’ first recorded deaths.

Also on Tuesday , the country recorded eight new COVID-19 cases. Morobe recorded four cases, Southern Highlands three and Jiwaka a single case.

Of the eight cases reported, four are males and four females. Their ages range from six to 65 years.

To date, 129,533 people have been tested for COVID-19. The country’s COVID-19 cases now stands at 16,799 with 167 known deaths. A total of 16,130 people have recovered from COVID-19.

All 22 provinces including the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) have reported cases.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS