THE United Kingdom Emergency Medical Team(EMT) has been deployed to Western Highlands, one of the worst affected in this wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team left for Mt Hagen this morning where they will be for six weeks unless they are needed in another province as well.
At a press conference yesterday, Police Commissioner and Controller of the National Pandemic Response Mr David Manning welcomed the team on behalf of the PNG Government, saying PNG is facing significant challenges in the current COVID-19 pandemic and was grateful for the support from the UK EMT.
“UK EMT will be deployed to Mt Hagen in the Western Highlands. It is in dire need of specialist assistance. From the NCC, we are grateful for this assistance from the British Government,’’ he said.
He also acknowledged the presence of the Australian Assistance Medical Team in the country.
Mr Manning said the UK EMT team was being deployed to Western Highlands because of the dire situation in that province, but the situation in other provinces are also being monitored and help will be sent there if this is needed.
He said PNG has its own domestic EMT that has been responding to the surges in the provinces in the past two months but has its limitations thus the government sought help from its foreign friends, including the British Government.
British High Commissioner to PNG Keith Scott thanked PNG for the warm welcome on behalf of the UK EMT.
He said since the outbreak begun almost two years ago, the British High Commission has tried to respond to requests for help from the PNG Government which included helping with awareness on the Niupela Pasin; helped St John Ambulance with some infrastructure development in Port Moresby; provided US$500, 000 worth of medical equipment in response to the last wave of COVID-19 and is delighted that its help to PNG is being taken to an extra level with the arrival of UK Emergency Medical Team.
“It’s a chance for the British medical expertise equipped to the best use here in PNG. It’s not only about dealing with a surge of COVID-19 cases of the Western Highlands but I’m also hoping there’s also some capacity building here, that the team will leave behind a legacy, and will help put the COVID-19 system on a sure footing to be able to be more resilient in the way it responds to such crisis in future,’’ said Mr Scott.
“I know the team are desperate to get in and do what they have to do, make a difference on the ground. Thank you for the warm welcome and for the opportunity to help a good friend in Papua New Guinea.’’
The UK EMT Team Lead Peter Sykes thanked PNG for the warm welcome and the opportunity to serve the people of PNG.
He said his team will be providing urgent care to seriously and critically ill patients; ensuring with PNG colleagues adequate infection prevention and control measures to stop further spread of the disease; and supporting community engagement strategies to reduce the spread of the virus.
“We are proud to represent the UK Emergency Medical Team in Papua New Guinea, grateful for the support of the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, and will do all we can to support PNG’s efforts to fight this pandemic and bring it under control. Our expert team will be providing critical medical care to patients suffering with COVID-19 and support to national health staff, already engaged in coping with the rapid spread of a third wave of the virus.’’