Illegal mining potentially to become new coronavirus clusters in Papua

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Coronavirus transmission map in Papua, Saturday (13/6/2020). – Covid-19 Task Force Papua

Jayapura, Jubi – Covid-19 Task Force Papua has given special attention to Biak Numfor, Jayawijaya and Boven Digoel regencies after the coronavirus transmission pattern in these regions are indicated to increase.

The number of coronavirus patients from Boven Digoel significantly increased from three to 17 cases, while in Jayapura it rose from four to 17 cases. In Biak Numfor, the increase was even more fantastic, from 31 to 71 cases within a week.

All patients in Boven Digoel are mine workers. Due to the limitation of health facilities in Boven Digoel, they are currently under medical attention in Merauke Public Hospital.

Concerning this, Boven Digoel deputy regent has publicly asked the Papua Provincial Government in a meeting with Papua Governor Klemen Tinal to forcibly close the mining that is allegedly operating without a license.

A similar request was also expressed by regents of Mappi, Asmat, Pegunungan Bintang, and Yahukimo because people infected by the virus are mostly from the mining sites.

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“Next Tuesday, a meeting has been scheduled (to discuss the coronavirus transmission in the mining sites). However, we have conducted a rapid test to 600 people (at the mining sites),” said Silwanus Soemoele, the spokesperson for COVID 19 Task Force Papua on Saturday (13/6/2020).

Soemoele said there are 17 mining sites that are supposedly illegal operating in Boven Digoel, Mappi, Asmat, Pegunungan Bintang and Yahukimo but the three most prominent sites located in Bravo Tujuh, Pisang-Pisang and Kawe.

“The medical team of Covid-19 Task Force Papua has communicated with the local governments. We agreed to provide a rapid test, swab test, and VTM (viral transport medium) to store the specimens. We are willing to pick up the result of their swab test as well,” said Soemoele.

He warned the local governments, and especially the Boven Digoel government because the number of patients infected by the coronavirus in their region has exceeded those in Merauke Regency. Therefore, he asked medical workers in Boven Digoel to increase their monitoring towards health issues and detect the spread of virus transmission through the rapid test.

“The government must take practical steps to address the Covid-19 transmission in Boven Digoel.” (*)

 

Reporter: Angela Flassy

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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