Papua urged to exercise caution as COVID cases rise in PNG

Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin has urged the Papua provincial government to remain on alert in the wake of a rise in COVID-19 cases in neighboring Papua New Guinea (PNG).

“We appeal to the Papuan people to restrict travel to PNG due to the country’s relatively high infection rate of the novel coronavirus disease,” Sadikin said in Jayapura on Wednesday.

The COVID-19 strain in PNG is not expected to be vicious, but the government needs to remain vigilant because many Papuans live near the Indonesia-PNG land border area, the minister explained.

If the coronavirus strain infecting PNG residents is categorized as a “vicious” one, it would be more harmful to communities in the Indonesian province of Papua, he observed.

“As part of the government’s preventive measures, we urge the Papua provincial government to cautiously monitor the movement of people in the border areas,” he added.

Indonesia remains in grip of the global coronavirus pandemic that has severely affected its economy, and the government has rolled out a nationwide vaccination program to contain infections.

According to the Health Ministry, it will take about 15 months to vaccinate about 181.5 million people under the national program.

“We need 15 months to accomplish it. The time-frame for conducting the vaccination is counted from January, 2021 to March, 2022,” Health Ministry’s spokesperson for the vaccination program, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, stated recently.

During the period, the government is targeting to inoculate about 181.5 million people, including 1.3 million paramedics and 17.4 million public sector workers in 34 provinces, she informed.

Tarmizi noted that the first phase of the government’s immunization program has been divided into two periods: January-April, 2021 and April, 2021-March, 2022.

The coronavirus pandemic has severely crippled the country’s economy, particularly the tourism sector. To revive tourism, the Indonesian government is planning to implement a travel bubble with Singapore.

In the first stage of its implementation, the travel bubble will run between Singapore and Bintan, Riau Islands. (INE)


Source: Antara News

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