NOOSA – In a shock development, Papua New Guinea’s prime minister James Marape and police minister Bryan Kramer have gone into self-isolation as the country’s lucky run in avoiding the tentacles of coronavirus seemed to reach an end.
Kramer used social media yesterday afternoon to state there had been an increase in coronavirus cases and said that he and Marape and will now work from home. “Further cases are anticipated,” he said.
Kramer also admitted that there is a shortage of test kits in PNG, saying “there is a huge global demand” for kits.
The PNG Institute of Medical Research in Goroka yesterday revealed five new cases of the virus after testing 55 samples, bringing PNG's total confirmed cases to seven.
Three of the new cases are from a village on the Indonesian border of Western Province. It is believed they contracted the virus from people crossing from Indonesia.
A fourth case has occurred in East New Britain in a person connected to the province's first confirmed case.
The fifth person is a Port Moresby woman who is a customs and quarantine officer at Jacksons international airport and who had contact with international passengers.
All five people are in isolation and demonstrating only mild symptoms.
However it was found that the customs officer had recently visited the government centre at Morauta Haus a number of times.
As a result the building has been locked down and testing is being done on staff based in the building. Marape and Kramer have been tested as a precautionary measure.
The tests are being sent to Brisbane this morning with results due this evening.
The cases have spurred the government to ramp up testing along border provinces and in East New Britain and to accelerate contact tracing of the customs officer case.
“People can help by staying home if they are not required to work or for other essential runs,” Kramer said.
“To fight the spread of this virus, we need less people to be on the streets, in buses, in shops, in banks or in the market.”