An extended travel restriction implemented by Papua New Guinea authorities for all individuals arriving from Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, and China, continues to remain in place as of Thursday, March 19, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Travelers arriving from these countries will need to complete a 14-day quarantine outside the country before being allowed entry into Papua New Guinea. The Ministry of Immigration had previously announced on January 29 that all travelers from Asian sea and airports, except Hong Kong and Singapore, will be prohibited from entering the country.
Cruise ships and leisure yachts with more than 15 passengers have also been banned from entering Papua New Guinea. Additionally, the country's land border with Indonesian-controlled Papua province, as well as sea crossings between the Solomon Islands and Bougainville remain closed. As a precautionary measure, Prime Minister James Marape has also declared a 60-day ban on all overseas travel for public servants.
Authorities have advised the public to observe good hygiene, practice social distancing, and to seek medical attention immediately when feeling unwell. For further information on COVID-19, individuals can contact the PNG Department of Health's hotline numbers +675 71960813 or +675 7129 16099.
There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea as of March 19. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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