PAPUA New Guinea’s champion swimmer Ryan Pini and NCD Deputy Governor Dadi Toka Junior were among volunteers that came forward today (4 June 2020) to participate in a study that is being conducted to better understand the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Papua New Guinea.
Team leader of the operational research and Director of Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL) Dr Evelyn Lavu said Papua New Guinea has confirmed only eight cases of COVID-19 so far and this study will be conducted in the provinces where these cases were confirmed as well as in the border areas where Papua New Guinea’s biggest threat currently is.
The targeted provinces are National Capital District/Central, East and West Sepik, Eastern Highlands, East New Britain, Morobe and Western Province. Dr Lavu said the research will also cover mining companies’ fly-in-fly-out’ program.
She said the study begun in NCD last week and has extended to Eastern Highlands, East New Britain and Morobe before it covers the other selected provinces.
Before the research in NCD a training was held for clinics both public and private which was attended by participants from NCD Public Health Authority, Central PHA, Taurama Health Centre, International SOS, 2K Medical Centre, Oil Search, City Specialist Medical Centre and a few volunteers.
Participants were informed that the big question many were asking was ‘why didn’t COVID-19 spread throughout the country like many other affected countries worldwide?”
Dr Lavu said, “This indeed is a blessing because this country is not prepared to face the pandemic like well developed countries whose health systems were challenged beyond doubt.”
Yesterday, a similar training was held in Morobe to kick-start the research.
“Each province is expected to recruit 2,000 participants and the health workers were informed on the selection criteria and sample collection required for the study which includes a finger prick for an antibody test by rapid diagnostic test or RDT.
“This seroprevalence study is aimed at determining the proportion of Papua New Guinea residents exposed to COVID-19 in selected provinces.
“If positive it means that he/she was exposed and developed an antibody for protection. It is not known how long this protection lasts as it is a new virus. Negative means no antibody and that one is still at risk for infection. All positive and selected negative cases will require additional samples to confirm COVID-19 by further laboratory tests. These samples will also be used to select good quality RDTs for the country to use,’’ Dr Lavu said.
She encouraged the public to go for testing to contribute to the decisions made by the Government for the State of Emergency, adding also that everyone must remain vigilant to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into the country and in the country.
The research is using the Rapid Diagnostic Test, whereas the eight cases confirmed were detected using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing.
David Manning, MBE, DPS, QPM
(Photograph and caption below:)
Champion swimmer Ryan Pini and NCD Deputy Governor Mr Dadi Toka Junior took time to get an antibody test by RDT this morning in Hanuabada.
Training of volunteers in Lae today.
Testing in Buang Health Centre in Lae.