PNG Covid-19 Lockdown
By REBECCA KUKU
ALL inbound flights to the country will stop from Sunday in a “seven-day lockdown” directive to reduce the chances of corona virus entering Papua New Guinea.
Prime Minister James Marape made the announcement shortly after returning from his trip to Balimo in Western for the Gogodala Canoe Festival, and conducted an inspection of the Jackson International Airport.
He told The National that the Government had been monitoring the Covid-19 (coronavirus) since it first broke out on Dec 31 in Wuhan.
“I know all of you are concerned about Covid-19, and so am I. We are doing everything we can to stop Covid-19 from entering our country, stop it from spreading in our country and stop it from killing in our country,” he said.
He said information on passengers arriving and their contact addresses 14 day before arrival and 14 days after arrival “is good”.
“That’s why the suspect case (on Wednesday) was tracked and monitored,” he said.
“We are now taking one step further by stopping all international passengers from coming to PNG as of this Sunday, while our outbound flights to selected airports will remain.
“My apologies for the inconvenience caused. We will manage it on a daily basis until the situation improves,” he said.
Marape said the “lockdown” for seven days would be monitored and could be extended or lifted according to the situation.
He assured the nation that “if the present buffer to stop Covid-19 from reaching PNG is breached, we will move to stop it from spreading and stop it from killing”. Meanwhile, Minister for State Enterprises Sasindran Muthuvel said Air Niugini would stop accepting passengers for inbound international flights to PNG from midnight Saturday.
“The ban will be in place for one week, with ongoing review. We are in a fast-changing environment, and we will continue to keep the public updated.
He said PNG’s passenger screening regime was among the most successful in the world, with only a handful of people requiring testing.
“The Government is putting the health and well-being of Papua New Guineans ahead of all other considerations. This means having the tools necessary to limit the spread of coronavirus, and to go about our daily lives with as little disruption as possible.”