Papua New Guinea continues to implement travel restrictions, enhancing health screenings as of March 9 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 09 Mar 2020 07:52 GMT and is scheduled to expire 31 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Heightened security, transport disruptions, enhanced health screenings; possible immigration delays

Summary
Officials in Papua New Guinea continue to enforce travel restrictions and enhanced health screenings as of March 9 to limit the spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) into the country. Authorities continue to ban all passengers that traveled in or transited mainland China within 14 days of arrival; the measure applies to foreign nationals, Papua New Guinean citizens, and permanent residents. Affected passengers attempting to enter the country will have to spend 14 days in a third country before traveling to Papua New Guinea. Officials have halted all visas for mainland Chinese citizens and stopped issuing physical visas at the PNG Embassy in Beijing.Visa-on-arrival services remain suspended for travelers from other countries, though foreign nationals can still obtain electronic visas before arriving in Papua New Guinea.

Authorities have intensified health screenings for inbound passengers. Officials at Port Moresby's Jacksons International Airport (POM) and other ports of entry are using thermal scanners to monitor patients with possible symptoms. Immigration and customs officials also require health declarations and travel history information before allowing passengers into the country. As of March 9, the Wutung border crossing remains open; however, intermittent closures remain possible, particularly if Indonesian officials announce a spike in COVID-19 cases. Officials may deny entry, require self-quarantine, or quarantine arriving passengers that they suspect of having COVID-19, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Although flights have resumed from many locations, national carrier Air Niugini (PX) and other airlines have reduced direct flights between POM and destinations in Asia. The flight reductions do not appear to significantly impact flights from Australia, which accounts for most international flight volume to the country.

Advice
Heed all official instructions. Confirm travel plans if scheduled to visit Papua New Guinea in the coming weeks. Consider delaying travel if exhibiting symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they could invite more scrutiny or, possibly, quarantine or return to your destination. Prepare to discuss and provide evidence for your recent travel history. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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