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The federal government of Papua New Guinea mentioned on Tuesday it might limit motion with out imposing a full lockdown, as coronavirus infections within the Pacific nation soared.

PNG on Tuesday recorded 82 optimistic circumstances from 91 checks processed in a day, main the Australian state of Queensland to droop constitution flights from the OK Tedi copper and gold mine, one of many nation’s greatest employers.

Of the newest 500 swabs taken from PNG residents by Australian well being employees, 250 of these got here again optimistic, based on Queensland well being officers.

James Marape, prime minister, warned that the nation’s official whole of two,269 Covid-19 circumstances, together with 26 deaths, was an undercount because it was primarily based on those that confirmed up for testing.

Solely 54,410 of PNG’s 9m folks have been examined, mentioned police Chief Superintendent Dominic Kakas, the nation’s Covid-19 activity drive spokesman.

“Neighborhood transmission has taken place. It has damaged free. We have to comprise it from additional spreading,” Marape mentioned.

“If we don’t [take a] proactive response to this, our well being system shall be clogged and we would not have the ability to maintain the outbreak that’s happening proper now.”

He mentioned well being authorities have been “metropolis by metropolis or metropolis and city, province by province, stopping folks from transferring out and in”.

Officials carry the coffin of former Papua New Guinea prime minister Sir Michael Somare during his funeral ceremony inside Parliament House in Port Moresby
Officers carry the coffin of former Papua New Guinea prime minister Sir Michael Somare throughout his funeral ceremony inside Parliament Home in Port Moresby © AFP by way of Getty Pictures

The nation’s maritime borders with Australia and the Solomon Islands have been closed.

Marape urged folks to stay of their districts and villages. He mentioned the police and navy would guarantee folks and public transport comply with public well being measures.

There are considerations of a surge in circumstances after mass gatherings have been held on the weekend to commemorate Sir Michael Somare, PNG’s first prime minister, who died final month.

Officers in Australia, which ran PNG affairs till independence in 1975, mentioned they have been monitoring the virus’s progress. Scott Morrison, Australian prime minister, mentioned vaccines have been being rushed to PNG to inoculate frontline well being employees.

“I’m very involved in regards to the scenario in PNG and we’re watching that very intently and actively,” Dr Paul Kelly, Australia’s chief medical officer, mentioned on Tuesday.

He mentioned vaccination has begun within the Torres Strait, which separates the 2 international locations. “They’re presently vaccinating in Saibai Island, one of many islands within the Torres Strait very near the PNG mainland,” Kelly mentioned.