Madang Governor Peter Yama says he is prepared to stop all foreign vessels and international visitors from entering the province due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
A taskforce team is being set up to look after all entry points in the province to make sure no foreign vessels or persons enter Madang.
Governor Yama said he would be sourcing funds from his Provincial Service Improvement Program (PSIP) grants to support the Madang COVID-19 response team to continue its awareness and preparedness towards the Global pandemic.
The Governor, who announced the 2020 provincial budget last week, says no money was allocated to the response team as the money belongs to developmental projects in the province.
Yama is calling on the six MPs to also source money from their District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) funds to support the response team in the province.
“…and I will be calling upon the members of the parliament, from their DSIP, we can get their money under the health sector – which we have an appropriation for that,” Governor Yama said.
As the Governor, he is also taking measures to make sure no tourist ships come into Madang.
For now, Madang province has no capacity to deal with COVID-19 when and if it does arrive on PNG shores.
“We don’t have any contingency plan…there’s nothing in place, there is no money and no appropriation for such money like this in here for that purpose…if coronavirus outbreaks in Madang province – my people will die like flies. And that’s my fear,” explained the Governor.
“The national government does not seriously consider the concern of the government; a place like Madang, which we have direct links to all our ports, the timber company to all Asian countries, we have direct RD Tuna to the other countries, Ramu Nicko and we have big ships that come directly to Madang.”
For the past seven weeks, the Madang COVID-19 response team has been carrying out awareness and preparations for the Global Pandemic.
The team has yet to set up a quarantine facility due to funding constraints.
However, they have identified a number of quarantine points that will have officers there to monitor.
“We have done a budget, we have an estimated 3.3 million for the next six months, to rollout our quarantine activities. For now, we are waiting for the money to come,” Madang COVID-19 response team Interim Chairman, Dr. Martin Damien said.
The team has also planned for a quarantine facility and an isolation ward.
This in the event that there is a suspect case, the team would need that person to be quarantined properly for 14 days before they can be released.
For now, the team does not have the means to set up a quarantine facility nor an isolation ward.