COVID-19: the situation so far and challenges for PNG
By Michael Kabuni Papua New Guinea (PNG) became the first country in the Pacific to declare a state of emergency (SOE) in response to COVID-19. Section 226 of PNG’s Constitution lists an “outbreak of pestilence or infectious disease” as grounds for declaring a national emergency. With more than 470,000 confirmed cases and over 20,000 deaths worldwide at the time of publication, the first recorded case in PNG on 13 March 2020 was sufficient reason for the National Executive Council (NEC) to declare an SOE. Among other things, the SOE gives the government the power to control the movement of people, vehicles, and goods; maintain and regulate transport; and regulate or prohibit use of public roads.
The emergency lockdown, which prevents the movement of people between provinces and puts restrictions on international flights, will only last for 14 days, subject to an extension of another 14 days. All schools and universities have shut for two weeks starting on 23 March. Non-essential services are shut, including most government departments, the courts and small businesses. The only exceptions are essential services such as banks, hospitals and shopping malls.
This blog gives a summary of the statistics, the situation in PNG leading up to the SOE and some of the challenges PNG faces.
What do the statistics look like?
According to the National Health Department’s Situation Report issued on 13 March – the latest publicly available data – 25,262 people entering PNG have been screened since January. Almost 3,000 have been identified as ‘persons of interest’, of which 2,230 are being actively monitored and 697 have completed the 14-day follow-up period.
A rapid response team comprised of medical professionals has investigated 16 people. Of those investigated, 14 samples were collected, with 10 testing negative for coronavirus while four samples are pending results. The other two did not meet …read more