PNG Defence Force in lockdown over fears of coronavirus spread
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Pacific Media Centre

PNG Defence Force soldiers are undergoing mass testing for covid-19 while there is controlled access into Murray Barracks to reduce further possible spread of the coronavirus, reports the PNG Post-Courier.

Defence Minister Saki Soloma in response to a confirmed case of covid-19 at Murray Barracks said yesterday the case had been identified as an officer serving with the Australian Defence Force working with the Defence Cooperation Programme team.

“I wish this officer a speedy recovery. He has been in isolation for nearly three weeks and is showing strong signs of improvement.”

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Soloma said the PNGDF had put in place measures to reduce the possible further spread of the virus, the Post-Courier reported.

“Firstly, there is now controlled access to Murray Barracks with only authorised personnel and their families permitted to enter.

“This will be extended to other PNGDF bases in Port Moresby and similar restrictions will be put place at other bases in PNG.

“There has also been a rigorous contact tracing program put in place to ensure we know where the patient may have contracted the virus and who he had been in contact with before going into isolation,” he said.

Mass testing programme
“The PNGDF was also undertaking a mass testing programme, led by the chief of the Defence Force, the Secretary of Defence and their senior staff.

“And adjusting their work patterns for the next two weeks to reduce the potential for further cases to occur.”

Soloma said he was proud of what the servicemen and women had done, and continued to do, in support of the national covid-19 response programme.”

“I again thank the PNGDF and our Australian Defence Force partners for their hard work – Kumul Karim,” Soloma said.

SBS News reports that an Australian Defence Force officer has tested positive to coronavirus while posted in Papua New Guinea.

The officer, who has been in PNG since January, self-isolated on June 5 after reporting cold and flu-like symptoms.

The officer will stay in isolation until cleared by doctors, the Department of Defence said.

“The High Commission has conducted contact tracing and provided this information to the PNG government,” Defence said in a statement.

Another five Australian Defence Force officers were last month flown home after contracting coronavirus in the Middle East.

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