Message from the Minister for Health in relation to stopping tourists on the Queen Elizabeth cruise liner from disembarking in East New Britain
On Sunday 23 2020, the Australian Registered cruise liner “Queen Elizabeth” docked in Rabaul in East New Britain. Two passengers on the cruise liner were removed for medical reasons unrelated to COVID-19. No passengers on the cruise liner were suspected of having an infectious disease or had been in mainland China in the last 14 days.
The cruise liner was cleared by health officials, which is a requirement before passengers can disembark. Unfortunately, passengers were stopped from disembarking through a verbal directive from the Governor of East New Britain. The directive was made as part of the East New Britain Provincial Emergency Response Plan to the management of COVID-19.
As Minister for Health and the person responsible for issuing such directions, I did not approve this directive. I also do not believe any such restriction of tourist vessels from Australia is necessary or helpful in preventing the spread of Coronavirus to PNG. I remind people that there is a process for issuing new restrictions and they are based on the level of risk presented.
The only restriction that is currently in place is to restrict people entering PNG who have been to mainland China. People who fall into this category must quarantine themselves in a country outside of mainland China for 14 days before they can enter PNG borders. These restitutions have been set in accordance with advice from the National Department of Health and the World Health Organisation and have been in place since 31 January 2020.
Whist COVID-19 continues to pose a high risk to PNG, there remains no current cases of the virus, suspected or confirmed, in PNG. I will continue to issue updates on any changes, and I encourage people to read reliable information especially issued by the National Department of Health and the World Health Organisation.
Hon Jelta Wong,
Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS
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