Last night, the National Capital District recorded three new cases of covid19.
Overall, seven covid19-related deaths have occurred, however 509 people out of PNGs 531 cases have recovered, and recently, in NCD, the easing of restrictions has seen a far more relaxed attitude on the streets.
Officially and from the Office of the Controller, PNG has already tested 23,777 persons for coronavirus. Of those tested, 23,246 have turned out to be negative. An additional 91 samples are pending laboratory results.
With the rapid rise in the cases, Controller of the National Pandemic Response, Mr David Manning has called on the citizens to adhere to COVID-19 prevention measures and come forward for COVID-19 testing.
To date, 13 provinces in the country have confirmed cases
When Covid19 first hit the shores of PNG, it caused panic, and an unprecedented government reaction in terms of public control.
There was a lockdown in Port Moresby, a lock down in Lae, and then a lockdown nationwide.
7 months on and times have changed.
NCD in the last 24 hours recorded three new cases, two men and a woman, with ages ranging from 21 to 50 years old. At present they are being isolated while the rapid response team of NCD is carrying out contact tracing.
And this is where it’s becoming somewhat of a paradox. In the capital Port Moresby which is the nation’s hotspot, things are pretty much back to normal.
Movement is still relatively unrestricted and apart from the midnight curfew in place, the initial rules of social distancing and social contact isn’t being adhered to. Facemasks which the prime minister had stated midyear would be mandatory are worn by a lot of people, but not all.
While shopping centre and other public amenities are taking it upon themselves to ensure a hygienic environment, the societal reaction of NCD has accepted the new normal; As nothing new.
PMVs at present during morning commutes are filled, schools and markets opened.
And while there has been a massive injection of funds specifically placed for a pandemic response, the anticipated peak of an outbreak and deaths has been relatively miniscule compared to the global statistics.
An already struggling economy now deep in recession and the anxiety for business to continue has seen PNG slowly pick up the pieces from last year.
It has been a frustrating year for many. Loss of academic hours, loss of revenue, and loss of jobs made it extremely tough for households nationwide.
There is hope that, under the new way of life it will allow for a more entrepreneurial and innovative approach to dealing with this crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic has seen a larger use of the internet, for business, and communication and general interaction between people.
But in the words of Father Ben Flemming, the Director of St Joseph’s Catholic College when interviewed about his schools lockdown, nothing beats human contact.
Indeed when the announcements that sporting matches would now allow for spectators, there had been a hype and buzz surrounding it, which showed just how desperately people needed to get out of the enforced bubbles they’d been placed in.
But the government still wants people to remain cautious and rightly so, the death tolls worldwide have been too high to ignore, and it would be callous and irresponsible of especially the NCDs citizens to disregard the rules set down.
The new normal so to speak, once embraced and wholly accepted by PNG society moving forward, will soon become nothing new.