FOUR staff members of the Central Public Health Laboratory – among the frontliners in the fight to stop the spread of the Covid-19 – have tested positive.
It takes to 15 – seven from Port Moresby – the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases recorded so far in the country.
“We are at war with the Covid-19,” acting Health secretary Dr Paison Dakulala said.
“For months we have been on the front line, protecting not only the people but also ourselves and our families.
“These new cases have brought the fight to our shores, and have hit hard the very heart of our department.”
All the 11 earlier cases have recovered, with two returning to their homes abroad.
Dakulala said Case 12 was a male laboratory scientist who conducted GeneXpert Covid-19 testing.
“He had a fever, muscle pain, cough and runny nose two days ago, and tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday evening. He is in stable condition and now isolated at Rita Flynn,” he said.
“Case 13 is a male support staff. He is in stable condition and also at Rita Flynn for isolation.
“Case 14 is a female laboratory scientist responsible for maintaining cold chain, arranging shipment of samples and testing. She is in stable condition and (will be isolated too) at Rita Flynn.
“Case 15 is a male laboratory scientist responsible for GeneXpert testing. He is stable and will also be isolated at Rita Flynn.”
Dakulala said when Case 12 was identified, the laboratory tested 37 staff members and identified cases 13, 14 and 15.
“As per standard practice, the rapid response team of the National Capital District is now conducting case investigation, contact tracing, transporting of cases in collaboration with the teams from the Health Department, St John Ambulance and the World Health Organisation.”
He cautioned the public to continue following safety measures and hygiene protocols.
“We have just received the results today (yesterday) and are investigating all possible sources of infection,” he said.
“I emphasise once again (that) anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms, fevers, coughs, sore throats, body aches or breathing difficulties to stay at home and immediately call our toll-free line 1800 200.”
Meanwhile, testing for the Covid-19 samples taken from provinces will be done at the Institute of Medical Research in Goroka, Singapore and/or Brisbane, Australia.
Dakulala said it was too early to say if there would be a lockdown in Port Moresby because of the four new cases in the city. It brings to six new cases confirmed in the capital city in the past 30 days.
The 15 cases recorded so far are: Port Moresby 8, Western 3, East New Britain 2, Morobe 1, Eastern Highlands 1.