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PNG COVID-19 Controller Manning urges public to test for COVID-19

 The Controller of the PNG COVID-19 National Pandemic Response has urged the public in the National Capital District to go for a test for the coronavirus disease 2019(COVID-19) if they have symptoms of the disease.

The common symptoms ofCOVID-19 include cough, fever, headache, difficulty breathing, sore throat, loss of taste or smell and muscle aches.

He announced that there are four urban clinics in the NCD that are now doing swabbing for COVID-19 tests for those with symptoms of COVID-19 where members of the public can also get their test results within a short time for free. These are Badili, Tokarara, Morata and Gordons clinics. These sites are part of the nine clinics that have been selected to participate in the Antigen (Ag) Rapid Diagnosis(RDT) validation in NCD. The public will be informed when the rest of the nine clinics begin swabbing too.

Other sites that are also providing routine swabbing for symptomatic clients are Pari clinic in Moresby South, and the Port Moresby General Hospital. The general public are encouraged to utilize any of these services to check for COVID-19 infection.

Mr Manning said that this Antigen test is easy and results will be given within 20 to 30 minutes. Further GeneXpert testing is then performed on positive samples to confirm if the patient has the coronavirus disease or not. The turnaround time is about an hour which is more convenient for isolation and contact tracing.

He also confirmed that Rita Flynn is no longer swabbing but only tests the positive samples it receives from the urban sites to confirm, using GeneXpert. All negative samples from the Ag test are sent to CPHL for confirmation.

Meanwhile, when making this announcement, Mr Manning reiterated his call on the importance of going for COVID-19 test.

“By going for a test you will know your status which will help you get the help you need and stop you from spreading the virus to others, including your loved ones,’’ he said.

Mr Manning also said he was happy to learn that more and more people are going for tests for COVID-19 unlike before and applauded the health workers that are swabbing, testing and providing counselling so that patients going for tests feel at ease.

Furthermore, he said that COVID-19 is just another respiratory illness and people should not fear going to the appropriate health facilities for testing. Through testing they will get the care they need if they test positive.

“At the beginning of our response there was a lot of fear surrounding COVID-19 so we did not see many people coming for test, but we are seeing a change now as more people in the NCD are coming to the clinics to get tested for COVID-19 as they are more worried about their health and the health of their loved ones,’’ he said, adding also that like all new diseases COVID-19 will eventually be integrated into the public health system.

Mr Manning has also reminded the public that, “As we do not have a cure for COVID-19 at this stage the best defence we have is prevention which is through the observation of the public health measures that are in place under the new normal or niupela pasin.”

Mr Manning also urged the public to follow these simple but important health measures’’ for COVID-19 including:

• Hand hygiene - wash your hands frequently at least for 20 seconds;

• Cough etiquette - cover your cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and throw the tissue into a bin after you finish;

• Wear a facemask or face covering in public spaces;

• Avoid crowds or enclosed buildings; and

• Practice physical distancing of 1.5 to 2metres when out in public such as hand hygiene, cough etiquette, physical distancing, avoiding crowded places and wearing masks.

The antigen Rapid Diagnostic validation roll-out is happening not just in NCD but also in other provinces such as the East New Britain; Western Province and Western Highlands. The aim is to speed up the turnaround time for test results.

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