Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner, David Manning, banned all flights from India last week, accusing the Indian government of deliberately hiding unauthorized passengers, including 4 infected with COVID-19. Manning said that this has compromised the safety of the residents of the island nation.
Manning, who is in charge of the country’s COVID-19 response, has already banned Indonesia’s Garuda Airlines and Hong Kong’s CapaJet from using Papua New Guinea’s airspace. The borders are closed to most travellers because of the pandemic but allowed a flight from New Delhi to carry 84 repatriating passengers. Manning accused the Indian government of allowing some passengers onboard without a COVID test. The allegations have been denied by the Indian Embassy, who insist that India has acted with all appropriate testing and certification in coordination with the government of Papua New Guinea, and has provided appropriate documentation.
Manning has been placed in charge of the COVID-19 response with Papua New Guinea passing the National Pandemic Act in mid-2020. Critics have insisted that placing Papua New Guinea’s COVID response under the authority of the police has been a bad public health move. It is now resulting in international and diplomatic conflicts. The Papua New Guinea police force is underfunded and now overwhelmed with an incredible responsibility of responding to foreign governments, managing domestic needs regarding COVID-19, maintain law and order, and providing for the needs of the police department.