Papua New Guinea’s Pandemic Response Controller and Police Commissioner says Covid-19 is now “widespread” throughout the capital Pt Moresby.

Five new cases were confirmed yesterday and the commissioner, David Manning, said they were all in the National Capital District (NCD).

Mr Manning said contact tracing efforts are being attempted in the city which went into lockdown on Monday.

Port Moresby and the NCD are initially to be shutdown for 14 days with a curfew between 10pm and 5am. All schools and non-essential businesses are closed.

Commissioner Manning told a media briefing on Thursday evening that confirmed cases have reached 72 with 54 known active cases and there are three critical cases, all in Pt Moresby hospitals including one on a ventilator.

He said the death toll remains at two.

“New cases today, case numbers 67 to 72 are all based in NCD. And from the case studies, or histories, what it tells us in the national control centre is that it is very much widespread in the city.”

Meanwhile, PNG’s deputy Pandemic Response Controller said said authorities were playing catch-up with contact tracing.

Paison Dakulala said he is hoping medical teams being dispatched from Australia will be able to help ramp up efforts.

Dr Dakulala said the number of people authorities need to reach who have come in contact with infected people is already in the thousands.

“So it is not easy to get contact tracing because those people who test positive have been in contact with people and especially those who move around make it very difficult for us,” he noted.

“And so we are behind the 8-ball in contact tracing and we are stepping up in increasing the numbers of people who can do that.”


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