COVID-19 pandemic in Papua New Guinea

COVID-19 pandemic in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea COVID-19 cases by provinces.svg
Map of the COVID-19 pandemic in Papua New Guinea (as of 27 May 2021)
  500+ Confirmed cases
  300-500 Confirmed cases
  150-300 Confirmed cases
  50–150 Confirmed cases
  30–50 Confirmed cases
  15–30 Confirmed cases
  5–15 Confirmed cases
  1–5 Confirmed cases
  No confirmed cases
DiseaseCOVID-19
Virus strainSARS-CoV-2
LocationPapua New Guinea
First outbreakWuhan, Hubei, China
Index caseLae
Arrival date20 March 2020
Confirmed cases32,378
Active cases1,694
Recovered30,269
Deaths
415
Fatality rate1.01%
Vaccinations2.1% (315,271) with at least one dose
Government website
PNG Government Official COVID-19 Website

The COVID-19 pandemic in Papua New Guinea is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was confirmed to have reached Papua New Guinea on 20 March 2020.[1] On 4 May 2020, Papua New Guinea was declared COVID-19 free. However, on 20 June, the government confirmed another case of COVID-19, meaning that the disease was present again within the country.[2][3]

Until early 2021, the country managed to stave off a major COVID-19 outbreak, with only 1,275 cases reported at the end of February according to Johns Hopkins University. In March cases tripled, with Prime Minister James Marape speaking of "rampant community transmission".[4] By early May, the number of hospitalizations in the capital Port Moresby stabilized, but delays in receiving test results from regional areas were a concern.[5] In mid May, as the reasons for the apparent easing of the pandemic situation remained uncertain, discrepancies between government figures and higher ones from the provinces led to concerns that hundreds of COVID-19 cases had been missed in the national tally.[6]

As of October 21, 2021 Papua New Guinea has a total of 32,378 cumulative cases, 415 deaths, and 30,269 recoveries.[7] As of 10 February 2022, the country had a vaccination rate of less than 3 per cent, one of the lowest in the world.[8]

Background

On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.[9][10]

The case fatality ratio for COVID-19 has been much lower than SARS of 2003,[11][12] but the transmission has been significantly greater, with a significant total death toll.[13][11]

The pandemic posed a major strain on the health system in Papua New Guinea, which has been described by experts as poor.[14][15] The presence of malaria, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and other illnesses was seen by experts as compounding the impact of the pandemic. In April 2020, the country had only about 500 doctors, less than 4,000 nurses, below 3,000 community health workers, and about 5,000 bed spaces in hospitals. Health care access was difficult for rural and village communities. During the pandemic, the country relied extensively on help from abroad, including the deployment of medical personnel, coronavirus testing kits, personal protective equipment, and from 2021, vaccines.[14] As of April 2021, the country was unable to conduct mass testing, leading health officials to believe that the reported infection numbers were likely vastly underestimating the scale of the outbreak.[16] During the wave of cases in the first half of 2021, the demographics of the country – dominated by the very young, who were less likely to require intensive care when infected with the coronavirus – were regarded as having prevented a worse situation.[17]

Timeline

March 2020

COVID-19 cases in Papua New Guinea  ()
     Deaths        Recoveries        Active cases
2020202020212021
MarMarAprAprMayMayJunJunJulJulAugAugSepSepOctOctNovNovDecDec
JanJanFebFebMarMarAprAprMayMayJunJun
Last 15 daysLast 15 days
Date
# of cases
# of deaths
2020-03-20
1(n.a.)
1(=)
2020-04-07
2(+100%)
2(=)
2020-04-16
7(+250%)
7(=)
2020-04-23
8(+14%)
8(=)
2020-05-04
8(=)
8(=)
2020-06-20
9(+12%)
9(=)
2020-06-25
10(+11%)
2020-06-26
11(+10%)
11(=)
2020-07-16
15(+36%)
2020-07-17
15(=)
2020-07-18
16(+6.7%)
2020-07-19
17(+6.2%)
2020-07-20
19(+12%)
2020-07-21
27(+42%)
2020-07-22
30(+11%)
2020-07-23
31(+3.3%)
2020-07-24
32(+3.2%)
2020-07-25
39(+22%)
2020-07-26
62(+59%)
2020-07-27
62(=)1(n.a.)
2020-07-28
63(+1.6%)2(+100%)
2020-07-29
67(+6.3%)2(=)
2020-07-30
72(+7.5%)2(=)
2020-07-31
72(=)2(=)
2020-08-01
91(+26%)2(=)
2020-08-02
110(+21%)2(=)
2020-08-03
111(+0.91%)2(=)
2020-08-04
114(+2.7%)2(=)
2020-08-05
153(+34%)2(=)
2020-08-06
163(+6.5%)3(+50%)
2020-08-07
188(+15%)3(=)
2020-08-08
2020-08-09
214(n.a.)3(n.a.)
2020-08-10
214(=)3(=)
2020-08-11
214(=)3(=)
2020-08-12
269(+26%)3(=)
2020-08-13
271(+0.74%)3(=)
271(=)3(=)
2020-08-16
323(+19%)3(=)
2020-08-17
333(+3.1%)3(=)
2020-08-18
347(+4.2%)3(=)
2020-08-19
347(=)3(=)
2020-08-20
359(+3.5%)3(=)
2020-08-21
361(+0.56%)4(+33%)
2020-08-22
361(=)4(=)
2020-08-23
398(+10%)4(=)
2020-08-24
401(+0.75%)4(=)
401(=)4(=)
2020-08-28
453(+13%)5(+25%)
453(=)5(=)
2020-09-05
479(+5.7%)5(=)
2020-09-06
488(+1.9%)5(=)
488(=)5(=)
2020-09-12
510(+4.5%)6(+20%)
2020-09-13
511(+0.2%)6(=)
511(=)6(=)
2020-09-18
516(+0.98%)6(=)
516(=)6(=)
2020-09-26
531(+2.9%)7(+17%)
2020-09-27
532(+0.19%)7(=)
532(=)7(=)
2020-10-02
539(+1.3%)7(=)
539(=)7(=)
2020-10-10
550(+2%)7(=)
550(=)7(=)
2020-10-21
583(+6%)7(=)
583(=)7(=)
2020-10-27
583(=)7(=)
583(=)7(=)
2020-10-31
583(=)7(=)
2020-11-01
583(=)7(=)
2020-11-02
590(+1.2%)7(=)
590(=)7(=)
2020-11-18
590(=)7(=)
2020-11-19
590(=)7(=)
2020-11-20
590(=)7(=)
590(=)7(=)
2020-11-23
590(=)7(=)
590(=)7(=)
2020-11-28
590(=)7(=)
590(=)7(=)
2020-12-25
681(+15%)7(=)
2020-12-26
725(+6.5%)8(+14%)
2020-12-27
725(=)8(=)
725(=)8(=)
2020-12-30
760(+4.8%)8(=)
760(=)8(=)
2021-01-10
799(+5.1%)9(+12%)
799(=)9(=)
2021-01-13
799(=)9(=)
2021-01-14
833(+4.3%)9(=)
833(=)9(=)
2021-01-19
833(=)9(=)
833(=)9(=)
2021-01-23
833(=)9(=)
2021-01-24
833(=)9(=)
2021-01-25
833(=)9(=)
2021-02-26
1,275(n.a.)12(n.a.)
2021-02-27
1,295(+1.6%)13(+8.3%)
2021-02-28
1,295(=)13(=)
2021-03-01
1,365(+5.4%)14(+7.7%)
2021-03-02
1,365(=)14(=)
2021-03-03
1,429(+4.7%)14(=)
2021-03-04
1,492(+4.4%)16(+14%)
2021-03-05
1,546(+3.6%)16(=)
2021-03-06
1,583(+2.4%)16(=)
2021-03-07
1,670(+5.5%)16(=)
2021-03-08
1,692(+1.3%)16(=)
2021-03-09
1,741(+2.9%)21(+31%)
2021-03-10
1,819(+4.5%)21(=)
2021-03-11
1,976(+8.6%)21(=)
2021-03-12
2,083(+5.4%)21(=)
2021-03-13
2,173(+4.3%)21(=)
2021-03-14
2,269(+4.4%)26(+24%)
2021-03-15
2,351(+3.6%)26(=)
2021-03-16
2,479(+5.4%)31(+19%)
2021-03-17
2,658(+7.2%)36(+16%)
2021-03-18
2,768(+4.1%)36(=)
2021-03-19
3,117(+13%)36(=)
2021-03-20
3,359(+7.8%)36(=)
2021-03-21
3,574(+6.4%)36(=)
2021-03-22
3,758(+5.1%)37(+2.8%)
2021-03-23
4,109(+9.3%)39(+5.4%)
4,109(=)37(=)
2021-04-04
7,038(+71%)67(+81%)
7,038(=)67(=)
2021-04-09
8,342(+19%)68(+1.5%)
2021-04-10
8,342(=)68(=)
2021-04-11
8,821(+5.7%)71(+4.4%)
8,821(=)71(=)
2021-04-15
8,984(+1.8%)71(=)
2021-04-16
9,343(+4%)82(+15%)
9,343(=)82(=)
2021-04-23
10,602(+13%)102(+24%)
2021-04-24
10,602(=)102(=)
2021-04-25
10,835(+2.2%)105(+2.9%)
10,835(=)105(=)
2021-04-29
10,997(+1.5%)107(+1.9%)
2021-04-30
11,037(+0.36%)115(+7.5%)
11,037(=)115(=)
2021-05-06
11,273(+2.1%)121(+5.2%)
11,273(=)121(=)
2021-05-09
12,493(+11%)121(=)
12,493(=)121(=)
2021-05-22
14,910(+19%)154(+27%)
14,910(=)154(=)
2021-05-27
15,368(+3.1%)159(+3.2%)
2021-05-28
15,415(+0.31%)162(+1.9%)
2021-05-29
2021-05-30
15,901(n.a.)162(n.a.)
15,901(=)162(=)
2021-06-02
15,910(+0.06%)162(=)
15,910(=)162(=)
2021-06-05
16,258(+2.2%)164(+1.2%)
16,258(=)164(=)
2021-06-08
16,374(+0.71%)164(=)
16,374(=)164(=)
2021-06-18
16,799(+2.6%)167(+1.8%)
2021-06-19
16,933(+0.8%)173(+3.6%)
16,933(=)173(=)
2021-06-22
17,013(+0.47%)173(=)
2021-06-23
17,079(+0.39%)173(=)
2021-06-24
2021-06-25
17,079(n.a.)173(n.a.)
2021-06-26
17,098(+0.11%)173(=)
2021-06-27
17,098(=)173(=)
Sources

Cases
Cases
Deaths
Deaths

On 20 March, the first case in Papua New Guinea was confirmed. The case was a 45-year-old man who had recently traveled to Spain.[1]

April 2020

On 5 April, Elizabeth II, Queen of Papua New Guinea addressed the Commonwealth in a televised broadcast, in which she asked people to "take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return". She added, "we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again".[18]

On 7 April, Papua New Guinea confirmed its second case of COVID-19. The patient, a 40-year-old female in East New Britain Province, had developed a cough on 23 March, and had been placed in quarantine. The entire province was placed under lockdown for the next 21 days.[19]

On 16 April, the PNG government confirmed five new COVID-19 cases.[20]

On 23 April, an woman of age 45 from Eastern Highlands Province who had sought medical help with symptoms two weeks earlier was confirmed to be infected, marking the eighth case in Papua New Guinea.[21]

May 2020

On 4 May, acting Health Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala reported that all known cases have recovered, but stresses that they don't know what they are fighting. 2,400 tests have been carried out with the bulk in Port Moresby.[22]

June 2020

On 20 June, the PNG government confirmed its ninth COVID-19 case.[2]

On 25 June, PNG confirmed its tenth case of COVID-19, a 27-year old member of the PNG Defence Force.[23]

On 26 June, the PNG government confirmed its eleventh COVID-19 case.[24]

July 2020

On 16 July, PNG confirmed four new cases of COVID-19; they are staff from the main laboratory that tests for the virus.[25]

On 18 July, PNG confirmed its 16th case of COVID-19.[26]

On 20 July, PNG confirmed two new cases of COVID-19.[27]

On 21 July, PNG confirmed eight new cases of COVID-19.[28]

On 22 July, PNG confirmed three new cases of COVID-19.[29]

On 23 July, PNG confirmed one new case of COVID-19.[30]

On 24 July, PNG confirmed its 32nd case of COVID-19.[31]

On 25 July, PNG confirmed seven new cases of COVID-19.[32]

On 26 July, PNG recorded its highest number of positive COVID-19 cases in a day, 23 new cases.[33]

On 27 July, PNG recorded its first death.[34]

On 28 July, PNG recorded its second death and a new case.[35]

On 29 July, PNG recorded four new cases.[36]

On 30 July, PNG recorded five new cases.[36]

August 2020

On 1 August, PNG recorded 19 new cases.[37]

On 2 August, PNG recorded another 19 new cases.[38]

On 3 August, PNG recorded a new case.[39]

On 7 August, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.[40] The patient was a 22-year-old college student who returned to Buka Airport from Port Moresby.[40]

On 10 August, Prime Minister James Marape announced that the two-week lockdown of Port Moresby, which expired the following day, would not be extended in spite of rising case numbers, saying that as per advice from specialist teams, a strategy of "living with the virus" was preferable to "drastic measures". Governor of Port Moresby Powes Parkop supported the decision, pointing to the present situation of economic crisis and the increased risks due to the lockdown in particular for students, who were often living in crowded conditions inferior to those in schools.[41]

September 2020

On 5 September, PNG reported eight new cases. As of early September, 12 of the country's 22 provinces have reported positive cases. The death toll remains five and the total number of recovered remains 232. There are 240 tests pending laboratory result.[42]

On 12 September, PNG confirmed its sixth death.[43]

December 2020

According to a 14 December situation report issued jointly by the PNG National Department of Health and the WHO, 44 new cases were reported across the country in the period from 7 to 13 December. Of these cases, 35 were from West New Britain, where two recent clusters of cases had developed in the preceding three weeks. The report warned that testing rates in all provinces had remained "critically low", and that there were "large significant delays in receiving test results". It also warned that a rise in cases over the upcoming holiday period was to be expected.[44]

February 2021

Due to rising case numbers, and the isolation wards at Port Moresby Hospital and the nearby Gerehu Hospital both being full, a temporary COVID-19 field hospital at a local sporting facility in the city was reopened. According to a ministerial briefing obtained by the ABC, "critical functions" at the National Control Centre for COVID-19 were endangered by about 40 staff members not having been paid for five months.[45]

March 2021

Amid a worsening of the outbreak with over 1,400 active cases, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on 17 March that Australia would send 8,000 vaccine doses to PNG the following week, and that it would request a further one million doses from AstraZeneca and European authorities to be diverted to the country. Refugee advocates called on the Australian government to return the refugees and asylum seekers who had remained in PNG after the closure of the Manus Island facility in 2019; six of them had tested positive in the preceding two weeks.[46] On 23 March tougher anti-pandemic measures took effect, with internal border controls being tightened, personal movement restricted, and mask wearing made mandatory.[47]

On 30 March, Prime Minister James Marape, health workers, senior politicians and elected officials were among the first to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Marape said on the occasion that he had decided to be among the first to be vaccinated to demonstrate that the vaccine was safe.[48]

April 2021

On 21 April, the total number of confirmed cases in the country passed 10,000. Pandemic response controller David Manning spoke of a "critical stage" in combating the outbreak and urged citizens to comply with pandemic control measures.[49]

May 2021

A national rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine was officially opended by Prime Minister Marape on 4 May. More than 130,000 doses from the COVAX program would be distributed across the country, targeting 3 per cent of the population identified as frontline workers. The take-up for 8,000 doses that had previously been delivered by Australia had been sluggish, with less than half of the doses administered in Port Moresby.[5] Misinformation from social media, resulting in mistrust of the vaccine, was identified by the Lowy Institute as one of the key reasons for the vaccine hesitancy.[17]

June 2021

On 23 June, PNG received 200,000 doses of the Sinopharm BIBP vaccine from China. The PNG government said that the vaccine would initially be provided to Chinese citizens in the country.[50]

July 2021

In early July, PNG opened its vaccination program to all persons over 18 years. This occurred as the country faced considerable vaccine hesitancy, with only just under 55,000 having received a vaccination, and among fears that 70,000 donated doses would have to be discarded.[51] A monitoring by Caritas of COVID-19 awareness programs in the country found that rural communities, largely relying on word of mouth rather than the media, were vulnerable to misinformation regarding the virus.[52] Due to concerns over the Delta variant, the government closed its international borders to all except the vaccinated.[51]

In a 2 July article, the China state media outlet Global Times alleged that "Australian consultants" in PNG had been "obstructing" the emergency use authorisation of Chinese vaccines. A 5 July statement by foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin expressed concern over what he called "irresponsible behaviour" by Australia in the country. On 6 July during a trip to PNG and on 9 July, the Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja rejected the accusations.[53]

September 2021

By 2 September, the number of coronavirus cases of the Delta variant reported from Western Province increased to 22. Citing phylogenic studies which suggested that the origin of the outbreak was in neighbouring Indonesian Papua province, National Pandemic Response Deputy Controller Daoni Esorom urged people to stop traveling illegally there.[54]

October 2021

A medical team arrived in the Port Moresby, joined by a British team soon after,[55] to deal with a strong surge of infections caused by the Delta variant in the country. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said that "concerted international action" was needed to support the country.[56]

November 2021

In early November, local media reported that the health system of the country was unable to cope with the wave of infections. In response, a New Zealand medical and logistics support team with essential supplies was sent to the country, with most of them arriving on 13 November, to stay for prospectively one month.[55]

December 2021

Experts warned that, due to the extremely low vaccination rate – less than five per cent in the adult population – , the country could become a breeding ground for a further mutation of the coronavirus.[57]

February 2022

Prime Minister James Marape tested positive during a trip to China early in the month, and cut his visit short as a result. On February 9, he released a statement saying that he was "doing well", and that "vaccination has really helped." He urged fellow PNG citizens to get vaccinated; the countrywide vaccination rate was less than 3 per cent, among the lowest in the world.[8]

Prevention measures

The Government of Papua New Guinea banned all travellers from Asian countries and closed its border with Indonesia, taking effect from 30 January.[58][59] On 16 April, due to additional confirmed cases in the National Capital District (NCD) and the Western Province, the Emergency Controller issued National Emergency Order No. 16, effectively locking down the NCD. The order established an 8 pm to 6 am curfew, prohibited most public gatherings, limited groups to four people, banned public transportation, and suspended alcohol and Betel nut sales. The order also prohibits domestic air travel and closes public venues such as gambling halls, night clubs, sports and sports clubs, and religious services.

On 3 May, the curfew for the National Capital District and Central Province was lifted, alcohol restrictions have been lifted. Gatherings remain banned, social distancing measures have to be enforced, and washing hands before entering church services is mandatory.[60]

On 5 May, the schools reopened; however, some schools required face masks and others have sent their students back again.[61]

The Autonomous Region of Bougainville region has imposed flight restrictions on mainland PNG, whereby flights could only be approved charters or medevac trips until 13 August.[62]

Statistics

Confirmed new cases per day

Confirmed deaths per day

Cases by province

ProvinceCases[63]Deaths[64]Population (2011)Cases/100KReferences
National Capital District9,391102364,1252,579.06
Western Province3,61033201,3511,792.89
Central Province8272269,756306.57
Morobe Province2,49147674,8103,691.41
East Sepik6888450,5301,527.09
East New Britain Province2,20828328,369672.41
West New Britain Province12276264,264464.31
Autonomous Region of Bougainville92117249,358369.35[65][66]
Eastern Highlands Province2,15690579,825371.84
Milne Bay1,2135276,512438.68
New Ireland Province82511194,067425.11
West Sepik77513248,411311.98
Southern Highlands Province1,03953510,245203.63
Western Highlands Province2,72479362,5807,512.82
Enga1,0487432,045242.57
Hela7626249,449305.47
Chimbu Province1,05811376,473281.03
Jiwaka Province42129343,987122.38
Manus Province6391160,4851,056.46
Madang Province1,26829493,906256.73
Gulf Province4920158,197311
Oro Province4043186,309216.84
22/2236,1875907,275,324497,4
Updated 31 December 2021

See also

References

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  2. ^ a b "An expatriate in Port-Moresby confirmed positive to COVID-19". postcourier.com.pg. 20 June 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Data on COVID-19 transmission in the Country not clear". EM TV. 4 May 2020. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
  4. ^ Hollingsworth, Julia (28 March 2021). "This country only has about 500 doctors for 9 million people. Now it's dealing with a Covid outbreak". CNN News. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  5. ^ a b Whiting, Natalie (4 May 2021). "COVID-19 numbers fall in Papua New Guinea but there are fears many cases have been missed". ABC. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
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  7. ^ "Home". PNG | COVID 19. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
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  9. ^ Elsevier. "Novel Coronavirus Information Center". Elsevier Connect. Archived from the original on 30 January 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
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  17. ^ a b Mercer, Phil (3 May 2021). "Papua New Guinea Covid-19: Mistrust fuels crisis as infections rise". BBC News. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  18. ^ "Coronavirus: The Queen's broadcast in full". BBC News. 5 April 2020. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
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  33. ^ "23 new COVID-19 cases announced in NCD – EMTV Online". Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  34. ^ "PNG Health Worker dies of COVID-19 : Marape". Papua New Guinea Today (in Indonesian). Retrieved 28 July 2020.
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