A two-week state of emergency came into effect for Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, March 24. Prime Minister James Marape announced the state of emergency on Monday, March 23, after officials confirmed the first coronavirus (COVID-19) case in the country. The individual is a foreign worker who entered the country on March 13 and traveled to Lae. Contact tracing is underway and none of the other people the individual came into contact with are showing signs or symptoms of the virus but remain under observation.
Under the state of emergency, all domestic flights are suspended and a ban on international flights remains in place. Only approved cargo, medicine, and security personnel will be allowed to travel between provinces. Schools are closed and all non-essential workers are being asked to stay home. Anyone who has entered the country from March 7 are being asked to report to the Department of Health's hotline numbers +675 71960813 or +675 7129 16099.
Authorities have advised the public to observe good hygiene, practice social distancing, and to seek medical attention immediately when feeling unwell. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.