Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has announced during his nationwide address this week that the Ministry of Health will deploy four staff to join the police, immigration and customs officers on a monthly rotation basis as part of our joint border force.
This is in response to the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in Bougainville at the country’s western border.
The total reported cases of COVID-19 in PNG has increased to 2,083 with 1,216 of these cases still active.
In the first 14 days of March 2021, PNG has already recorded 808 new cases of COVID-19. The number of COVID-19 cases in Bougainville had also increased to around 68 last week and could be even more now.
Hon Sogavare said this new deployment will ensure that the health team travels with police and other border agencies to increase patrols along the border, and importantly to undertake awareness in all villages along the border zone.
“The health deployment team will not be based in clinics. They will be part of our joint ‘command and control’ at the Kulitanai police base.
“We are also stepping up emergency infrastructure at the border zone to increase accommodation, isolation, and quarantine facilities. We are also working to ensure our logistics, operational support, and supply chains are well maintained,” he said.
The Prime Minister have also asked development partners to support the Government by helping to finance fuel depots at Taro and Kulitanai, and in addition support to infrastructure facilities now urgently required at the border.
“We also need to urgently step up our ‘communication capability’ at the border zone. There are many communication black holes that need to be urgently addressed.
“I ask Solomon Telekom to expedite the implementation of the two telecommunication towers that the Government of Australia had committed to fund at Shortland Islands as soon as possible,” the Prime Minister said.
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