Health Minister Wong Slams Crazy and Reckless COVID-19 Fake News – Commits to Taking first Vaccine alongside PM Marape
The Minister for Health, Jelta Wong, MP, has called on all leaders in politics, the public service, business, academia and the broader community to exercise extreme caution and not spread false information on COVID-19.
Jelta Wong said Papua New Guinea is now in a critical phase where COVID-19 will either be contained and managed, or negligence and misinformation will cause increased sickness and deaths.
“More than two million people have died from COVID-19 around the world, while at the same time the damage has been mild in Papua New Guinea.”
“But we cannot relax or lower our guard, and we cannot let our people be led by nonsense fake news they have seen online.”
“I respect that everyone has an opinion on COVID-19, but I also appeal to everyone in our country to be responsible and not repost fake news. The only reason that PNG has been spared the full horror and death from COVID-19 is because our Government has managed the response, and more importantly, because Papua New Guineans have been very responsible in maintaining COVID-Safe practices in their daily lives.”
“I have seen posts from seemingly very smart people making crazy claims about the virus that must not be believed. So when I see these ridiculous claims that we are immune because of the colour of our skin I become very disappointed at how foolish some people can be.”
The Health Minister said the Government is now working day and night to have a fully tested and approved vaccine rolled out to the people before the next wave of the virus hits hard like it has in other countries.
He said there are developing countries who were in a similar situation to Papua New Guinea only two months ago, and now they are facing potentially thousands of deaths and widespread panic.
“As two examples, Zambia and Zimbabwe had a relatively small number of COVID-19 cases in December, but now the virus is mutating and spreading and killing many people.”
Minister Wong said Zambia had 249 active cases at the start of December that rose to over 10,000 in January, while in Zimbabwe since December the number of deaths has multiplied six times.
“The COVID-19 vaccine will be released in Papua New Guinea at the conclusion of the most stringent tests by Papua New Guinea’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee (MeSAC) alongside many other countries and the World health Organisation.
“When we are satisfied with this testing and can assure our people of the safety of the COVID-19 shot, we will offer this to our people to take on a voluntary basis.
“To demonstrate the importance of this vaccine, Prime Minister Marape, myself, and leaders from many organisations will received the vaccination as it is distributed amongst our people.
“The various vaccines that are now in widescale use around the world are being tested, and the AstraZeneca vaccine appears to be the most appropriate for requirements.
“Our Government now looks forward to the final stages of testing being presented to the National Executive Council for a decision to be made on rolling out the most effective vaccine that will protect lives in Papua New Guinea.”