Pandemic Controller urges Papua New Guineans to rely on statistics from National Control Centre

Citizens must rely on the National Control Centre and the National Department of Health for up-to-date statistics and information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and no other sources said the Controller of the PNG COVID-19 National Pandemic Response and Police Commissioner David Manning.

He has urged all citizens to rely on information on COVID-19 from the National Control Centre and the National Department of Health and not from other sources.

Mr Manning said this to clarify questions from citizens on how figures from COVID-19 cases and deaths are obtained from the provinces. In response Mr Manning said there are well trained and committed medical professionals located in all provinces who are providing the information.

“The information about new cases come to us from a number of sources. Health officials from all Provincial Health Authorities have been trained to take swabs for COVID-19, and most also have access to the GeneXpert testing platform which can give results within one hour.

“Antigen Rapid Tests have also been dispatched to all provinces to provide testing at the point of care, for example a clinic or at someone’s home. Many samples are sent to the Institute of Medical Research or Central Public Health Laboratory for Polymerase Chain Reaction testing and some are sent onto partners in Australia or Singapore who also assist with testing.

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“In addition, individual labs or private companies such as those in the resources sector often have the capacity to conduct their own testing. All results must be provided to NCC within 24 hours, as per the latest measures. The majority of cases from Western have been reported from mass testing done of employees engaged in the private sector (mining).

“In recent weeks, PHAs have also been taking more swabs and running tests, and you will see increased cases from the South Fly being reported,” Mr Manning explained.

Meanwhile, Mr Manning said the surveillance team and the whole of NCC is aware of the higher number of cases in some provinces trending on social media and other platforms which are not featured in the NCC official provincial tally. He explained that cases cannot be reported until the case investigation forms (CIFs) are received from the provinces formally notifying the NCC’s Surveillance team of a case.

“This is the same process that every province must follow before cases are reported. For deaths, we must also receive the death certificates and the COVID-19 death notification form,” said Mr Manning.

Under the measures and directives issued by the Controller in the National Pandemic Act 2020 no-one is supposed to release any information on COVID-19 statistics to the public without first of all registering them with the NCC.

He said there are sensitive processes governing this delicate procedure as it involves people’s lives. He said COVID-19 cases and related deaths are not just figures but has a human face where families are losing loved ones as cases continue to rise. He said given these reasons among others, proper procedures have to be followed carefully to release the number of cases and COVID-19 deaths.

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