Glen Mola


We have all now had about 7 months of experience of handling the coronavirus in Papua New Guinea (PNG).  There are many views and critiques on how things have been done, and how things should have been done.  We have spent millions (mainly borrowed money) on our COVID-19 response, and we have not even got to the full epidemic stage of the disease.

My view is that we have and are trying to handle the COVID-19 response as though we are a high-income country (HIC), but various kinds of lockdown and quarantining strategies. Some HICs have had good success with these strategies (South Korea, New Zealand and Australia), and others not so good (Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and United States of America). However, I see that it is just not possible for PNG to follow the same strategies as HICs and have any chance of ‘success’; (success being stopping the epidemic in its tracks before it had a chance to take off (like New Zealand), or aborting the epidemic at an early stage (like South Korea, Australia). We will not be able to do this in PNG. We have neither the financial capacity, the institutional capacity in our border protection systems, health systems or ability to test, contact trace and isolate positives.