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29 Jan 2020 | 01:52 AM UTC

Papua New Guinea: Immigration official announces ban on all travelers from Asian ports January 29

The Ministry of Immigration bans all travelers from Asian air and sea ports from entering Papua New Guinea as of January 29, due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak; confirm travel itineraries

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Event

The Ministry of Immigration announced on Wednesday, January 29, that it has banned all travelers from Asian sea and air ports from entering Papua New Guinea effective immediately due to the ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). It also said that it will close its land border with Indonesian-controlled Papua province from Thursday, January 30. Immigration officials did not say how long the measures will be in effect. Papua New Guinea residents returning from Asian countries will be held in quarantine for at least 20 days, before entry into the country may be determined.

While the country has no confirmed cases of the virus and has already implemented screening measures for travelers from mainland China, health officials said that the country would struggle to contain a local outbreak should it occur.

Spread of the 2019-nCoV in the region is possible in the near term.

Context

The first case of 2019-nCoV was reported in Wuhan (China) on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market. 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. At least 132 people have died in China, and an estimated 6057 cases have been confirmed worldwide.

As of January 29, cases of the virus have been confirmed in 19 countries and territories outside of China and human-to-human transmission has been confirmed in Germany and in Japan. Virus screening measures are being implemented at airports worldwide.

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

Individuals traveling to Papua New Guinea from Asia are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:

• Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold

• Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)

• Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask

• Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly

• Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments

• Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spread of the disease