Eleven more people die of Covid-19 in PNG

Monday 29 March 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Papua New Guinea, Regional

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Eleven more people die of Covid-19 in PNG
Papua new Guinea's Health Secretary, Osborne Liko (left) and National Pandemic Response Controller David Manning address a media update about the country's worrying Covid-19 surge, 27 March, 2021, Port Moresby. Photo: PNG PM Media

Papua New Guinea has recorded eleven new Covid-19 deaths, increasing the country's total number of Covid-related deaths to 51.

The new deaths come as PNG's total number of infections increases to 5205.

Meanwhile the rollout of the Astrazeneca vaccine is beginning this week, according to health authorities, with frontline health staff to be prioritised for the jab.

Australia is providing an initial 8000 doses to PNG to help the country deal with the Covid-19 outbreak.

Hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses are expected to arrive in coming months, although there is significant hesitance over vaccination among PNG's public, even including health workers.

With the vaccination rollout commencing, the Health Department is pleading with the public to adhere to safety protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

A nationwide isolation strategy which began this month introduced restrictions on public movement, as well as mandatory mask use.

But adherence to the measures has been slack, and the Health Secretary, Osborne Liko, said people should be aware that almost 50 percent of PNG's 5,184 cases were confirmed in the past week.

"It goes to show - your aunties, your uncles, your mothers, your fathers, and those households we share in Melanesian culture - that it's not a joke," Dr Liko said.

"Take this niupela pasin (new normal), non-pharmaceutical measures, very, very seriously."

The National Pandemic Response Controller, David Manning, also confirmed they were seeing some resistance to new restrictions banning people from moving between districts and provinces.

"But overall I am convinced we'll meet our objectives in regard to cutting transmission (of the virus within the wider community)," Manning explained.