NOOSA - PORT MORESBY - Domestic passenger flights have been reduced to three Covid ‘high risk’ provinces in Papua New Guinea - West Sepik, Western and Eastern Highlands.
The only travel, which must be approved beforehand, is for health workers, business people and students.
National Pandemic Controller David Manning said there is zero tolerance for breaches of the controls and airlines and passengers not adhering to the requirements will be fined.
But there was better news for international business travellers arriving from countries deemed not to be high risk.
They will be allowed to enter PNG with the proviso they have a Covid test on arrival.
However, if the test is positive, travellers will need to complete 14 days in isolation at their own cost.
There is great concern throughout PNG at the rampant spread of the Delta virus with only about 1.3% of the population vaccinated.
It is now accepted that the variant is already present in all 22 provinces of PNG.
Meanwhile, local health services are under huge pressure and in some cases have closed.
A PNG Attitude source reported how a woman in a rural village was believed to have contracted Covid but, when she was taken to the nearest clinic, terrified health workers sent her back home.
Health Minister Jelta Wong has said that the most effective way for the communities to be safe is to be vaccinated.
“Their survival is a human right,” Wong said.
“We do not have the same level of resources as developed countries when it comes to testing.
“Our committed workforce is doing the best it can with the available resources,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ian Tarutia, president of the PNG Chamber of Commerce, says that vaccination should be compulsory for workers and their families.
He told The National that this would allow life and engagement at the borders and in the global community to continue.
“We should also take a leaf out of our neighbours in the Pacific," he said. "They have taken a strong position to protect their country, economy and people.
“Our health facilities and systems are not adequate to accommodate the Covid-19 spikes, let alone other communicable diseases like TB. We all know this."
Sources: Sunday Bulletin, PNG Attitude, The National