PNG provinces urged to improve covid response

20:12 pm on 1 April 2021

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister has rapped provincial authorities over the knuckles for a lack of communication about Covid-19 responses.

Despite limited testing, James Marape says community transmission of the virus is clearly rife in PNG.

Many provincial hospitals are struggling to cope with the increase in patients.

The prime minister says the provinces have to do better at communicating what equipment and resources they need.

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marape was the first in his country to get the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. 30 March, 2021. Photo: PNG PM Media

"I'm quite dismayed that there hasn't been live interaction between provincial health authorities and our national control centre here," he said.

"And I ask all doctors, all CEOs who are looking after provincial health authorities, please come out, get your reports to us (regarding) what you need: how many more beds you need based on your situation, how many more oxygen ventillators you need. It is our government's responsibility to find the resources to support you in your provinces and it is their responsibility to step up to us with their plan for their respective provinces that they preside over."

James Marape has also urged PNG's 22 provincial governors to strictly enforce and comply with covid safety measures in their provinces.

All but two of PNG's provinces have reported cases, but testing has been limited, suggesting the number of those infected is far higher

In the past 24 hours there were no further deaths reported, so the toll remains at 60 but the number of people infected has leapt to 6,112.

Marape asked governors to ensure their provinces do more to enforce the measures of the Niupeal Pasin, or "new normal".

These include wearing masks, frequent washing of hands and social distancing, as well as restrictions on movement between villages and districts.

Adherence to these measures has been slack in many provinces, and the prime minister has signalled tighter restrictions could soon be introduced.

Marape also appealed to all citizens to volunteer themselves for vaccination against Covid-19 when the opportunity arises.

PNG's vaccine rollout began on Tuesday after Australia sent an initial 8000 doses of AstraZeneca, with health workers being given early opportunities to be vaccinated.