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07 Apr 2020 | 04:50 AM UTC

Papua New Guinea: East New Britain province to be placed under lockdown April 7 /update 4

Government places East New Britain province under lockdown for 21 days after country’s second COVID-19 case confirmed April 7; further international spread of COVID-19 to be expected over near term.

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Event

The government placed East New Britain province under lockdown restrictions for the next 21 days on Tuesday, April 7, after the country's second confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) was recorded in the province. Prime Minister Jame Marape reported that the case involved a patient who had developed a cough on March 23 and was admitted to hospital three days later. The patient is being treated for respiratory symptoms in isolation. A team of medical experts has been deployed to the province.

Previously, Prime Minister James Marape announced that the nationwide state of emergency that came into effect on March 24 will be extended through June. 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.

Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.

Context

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) characterized the virus as a "pandemic."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored 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.

Advice

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 COVID-19 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.