PNG's Goroka Show cancelled due to rising COVID-19 cases

 ONE of Papua New Guinea’s major shows has been cancelled at the last minute due to the rising coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

The Goroka Show is held every year for three days during the country’s independence anniversary and attracts people from all over the world.


Eastern Highlands administrator John Gimiseve said in a media statement the decision had to be made in the interest of the people.

“We understand and acknowledge that a lot of time, preparation, commitment by individuals, groups, communities and business houses, have been made towards the iconic global event – Goroka show. However, it is with regret that the show will not proceed as scheduled given our current COVID-19 situation in the province,’’ he said.

He said the province had experienced 16 deaths with over 50 people admitted to the hospital between March and April this year from COVID-19.

“The situation subsided from June to August 2021. However, in the first two weeks (3–12 September) alone, 24 new cases and four deaths were recorded in the hospital. That is very alarming and serious for our people.’’

Currently, the Goroka Hospital isolation ward is full with critically-ill COVID-19 patients while the mild cases have been sent to isolate at home.

“COVID-19 and its recent variants are also unpredictable. To further complicate the situation, our population in general are not adhering to the new normal measures. Even, the vaccine uptake among our frontline population in the province at 33% is risky.

“The huge number of unvaccinated (unprotected) population accessing the show places a greater risk and will culminate in enormous calamity after the show.’’

Mr Gimiseve said in light of the above, he had no choice but to immediately stop the Goroka Show from being held.

“The health and wellbeing of the bulk of the population of EHP takes precedence over all other considerations. I cannot and I will not take the risk of compromising people's health. This also means that all other public events that attract the congregation of people should also be put off until further notice.’’

In response, Deputy Controller of the National Pandemic Response Dr Daoni Esorom thanked the EHP Provincial Government for cancelling the show as the province is currently experiencing a surge and there is suspicion that delta variant cases are among the new cases being seen.

“This is a super spreader event and will only worsen the situation if it was to go ahead. We have to thank the CEO (EHPHA) Dr Apa for the advice and guidance given to the PA. You certainly put the health and safety of our people and their lives ahead of entertainment.’’

Dr Daoni has also warned the rest of the provinces to take heed of the situation in EHP and follow similar decisions to safeguard the lives of Papua New Guineans, many of whom are refusing to adhere to the Niupela Pasin to the detriment of their health and well-being.

“Mass gatherings are a great recipe for Delta Variant. I appeal to everyone to avoid mass gatherings as much as they can, but if they cannot afford to, they should ensure they are wearing masks, hand sanitizing and physical distancing as they move around in these gatherings,’’ he said.

“Delta Variant is spreading in the country, but we do not do genome sequencing in-country to be able to know quickly. The results from the samples sent overseas take a while to return. In the meantime, we have to do everything possible to ensure it does not continue to spread.

“If you are still doubting that Delta Variant is around, look at Fiji which had not reported cases for a year but when Delta Variant came it has been reporting hundreds of cases every day. Fiji’s total confirmed cases are now almost on par with Australia. This confirms what we’ve been saying that Delta variant spreads fast and is deadlier.’’

He also urged people with symptoms of fever, headache, muscle pains, flu-like symptoms and other symptoms of respiratory illness to go and test for COVID-19.

“Vaccination is key to ending the pandemic. I urge people above 18 years and above to get vaccinated. It’s important and critical and will save lives,’’ said Dr Daoni.


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