The Morobe Provincial Health Authority and other stakeholders have set up a committee to manage the risk of having a Coronavirus (Covid-19) Outbreak, should the disease reach Papua New Guinea, and Morobe in particular.
The Morobe COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Committee have identified entry points into the province and will carry out surveillance in these areas. These include the Nadzab Airport and Bulolo Airstrip, the Lae Port (wharf), Mutzing Health Center station for the highway, and the Aigris market boat stop.
Doctor in charge of the committee, Dr. Lincoln Menda said while the capability to carry out such an operation will be a challenge, they have prepared surveillance teams to identify possible cases at these entry points.
“The first net to capture possible cases is in Port Moresby, Jackons Airport. Second here in Morobe and other provinces.”
Dr. Kipas Binga who is also engaged with the committee said outside centers need to beef up surveillance to identify possible cases.
Apart from gathering travel history from travelers arriving at the Nadzab Airport, they have plans to conduct temperature screening. According to Dr. Binga, if passengers have symptoms with recent travel history to COVID-19 affected countries, these will become suspected cases and will be referred to Angau Hospital.
“…they will come with fever…sore throat…runny nose. We need to get a very good history…of the recent travel…”
“Or if the person’s present flu-like illness with a bit of fever, has contact with someone who has come from those places, affected regions…then it becomes a potential suspect for us and so we have to isolate, get the specimen and send.”
The Milfordhaven and Buimo Road Clinics are being set-up as Coronavirus and Public Screening Units for Morobe. These clinics will no longer be functioning as urban clinics, and will be fully utilized for COVID-19 operations.
“We have removed all its functions, had it shared by the other city clinics, and we established that two clinics specifically to look at influenza-like illnesses…it is just like coronavirus” Dr. Menda said.
He added that patients with symptoms that fit COVID-19 description will have samples taken, and sent to the Medical Research Institute in Goroka.
“We have already started the management basically because there is no specific management of the coronavirus at this stage of time. We will be doing supportive like hydration, other antibiotics, reduction of temperature and isolating them.”
The Committee is urging all travelers to cooperate with these preventive measures that are being put in place for people entering Morobe.
Dr. Menda confirmed that there have been no cases identified in Morobe as yet, and is calling on the public to observe simple hygiene rules like hand-washing, avoid close contact with persons that have cough, shortness of breath, and other related symptoms.
By Lucy Kopana, EMTV News, Lae