Coronavirus: a global health emergency
Prime Minister, James Marape, says the World Health Organisation (WHO) has now declared the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a global health emergency, and puts Papua New Guinea as a high risk area..
Meantime, the Department of Health is currently monitoring the situation through weekly briefs from the WHO, however there has been no reported cases of the virus in the country.
“At this time, there is no reported case(s) in the country and the NDOH has now set screening stations at the airport for passengers arriving from countries that are affected by the virus,” Mr Marape said.
The Department of Health in collaboration with the WHO, have mobilized health professionals to enable mechanisms already put in place to manage such threats in the country.
“All nationalities wishing to travel to Papua New Guinea from Wuhan, Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China, will not be uplifted until further notice and person(s) travelling in from affected countries are encouraged to get medical clearance before travelling to Papua New Guinea.
“Al vessels coming through the sea ports will be redirected to Port Moresby for screening before continuing to their destinations and screenings will also be done at our land border with Indonesia.”
Mr Marape urged those travelling from China, and especially from Wuhan, the epicentre of the 2019-nCov, and via other ports and from countries with reported cases, are encouraged to call into the screening stations for assistance.
People experiencing breathing difficulties, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia, are also urged to call the Department of Health Help Desk on telephone, 67571960813 or visit a screening station for further advice and assistance.
The DoH has a rapid response team (RRT) currently on standby to screen and treat people of such symptoms.
“People who do not show symptoms at this time are encouraged to self-isolate for 14 days and give your details to the team at Jackson’s International airport, seaports or border posts so that the rapid response team can do twice weekly checks on you during your 14 days in isolation.
“Should we have a severe case in the country, the rapid response team will be deployed to take the affected person(s) to be quarantined and treated at the Port Moresby General Hospital.”
Mr Marape has also expressed concern for Papua New Guineans living, studying or working in affected countries and has requested the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to set up a help desk to assist families and provide updates.
The department is in constant contact with the PNG Embassy in Beijing and the Chinese Embassy in Port Moresby.
In the meantime, the World Health Organisation is working with medical research institutions all over the world to understand it and to put in place measures to stop it from spreading and taking lives.
Mr Marape further urged residents and visitors to practice good hygiene and educate their children to do the same.
He said the best way to protect yourself, is by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after ablutions, before you eat, when you use your hands to cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing and avoid contact with anyone who has fever and cough.