PNG confirms 4 new covid cases – breach in testing lab
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By Thierry Lepani in Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea’s Deputy Controller of the Pandemic Act, Dr Paison Dakulala, has announced four new covid-19 cases in Port Moresby, taking the country’s confirmed cases to 15.

Dr Dakulala initially announced two positive cases and then about a couple of hours added another two.

All four cases are staff members at the Central Public Health Laboratory located at Port Moresby General Hospital.

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The laboratory is responsible for carrying out the testing on the swabs to determine whether they were positive or negative.

Three of the staff members are male while one is female. All were in stable condition, and have been moved to Rita Flynn isolation and testing facility at Boroko.

Dr Dakulala revealed that after the 12th case was tested, after showing the usual signs and symptoms, and revealed to be positive, the 37 staff at the CPHL were tested, which produced the 13th, 14th and 15th confirmed cases.

The staff members are made up of three laboratory scientists who conduct GeneXpert testing for covid-19; the other is a support staff member of the laboratory.

Rapid response team deployed
Dr Dakulala also made it clear that a rapid response team, as per the usual measures, had been deployed to conduct contact tracing for those who may have came in contact with the four people.

Asked how the staff members may have contracted the disease, whether it was a breach in protocols at the laboratory or from contracting it from community transmission, Dr Dakulala said it was still unclear at this time.

Investigations would be able to determine that soon.

“The CPHL will undergo a thorough disinfection in the coming days to ensure we follow all the infection prevention and control measures,” he said.

“In the interim, testing for covid-19 samples from provinces will be done at IMR Goroka, Singapore and/or Brisbane, Australia.”

Dr Dakulala stressed the importance of following all health and safety protocols, and ensuring that citizens remain at home if they are sick and call the hotline if they show any of the signs and symptoms.

The last covid-19 case for PNG was announced on June 25 who had come into close contact with case number 10.

Thierry Lepani is a PNG Post-Courier reporter.

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