Papua New Guinea Lifts Coronavirus Visa Restrictions
*Update 8pm GMT Thursday, 30 January 2020*
The restriction on travel to Papua New Guinea from 'Asian countries' has been lifted less than 24 hours after it was mandated by PNG's Ministry of Immigration. An update posted on the ICA Website indicates that the 'Online Visa Portal has been activated.'
The update states that anybody who has visited Wuhan province in China - thought to be the source of the coronavirus outbreak - will be refused entry until further notice, and anybody who has visited China within the last 14 days will be refused entry until cleared by a World Health Organisation (WHO) approved medical facility. The announcement does not specifically mention if 'visiting China' includes people who have transited through Chinese airports.
The statement reads as follows:
This notice serves to advise that the Online Visa Portal has been activated for clients to use. Also all operating airliners , travelling publics, foreign nationals and the citizens are informed that the World Health Organisation has given their assurance that the Corona Virus spread can be contained through their relevant support to the Government of PNG through the Health Department.
All Nationalities in Wahun of Hebei Province in China are not to be uplifted until further notice. Any persons who have been to China in the last 14 days are not to be uplifted until they are medically cleared by a reputable clinic and hospital based on WHO standards. Check points will be set to ensure checks are conducted in accordance with WHO standard.
PNG Immigration and Citizenship Au · ty staff will be stationed at the main point of entry to ensure people w have ee to China in the last 14 days will not be allowed entry.
Hon. Westly NukundiNukundj, MP
Immigration and Border Security
In light of the updated information, it is still advised that potential travellers to PNG contact their tour operators to check if their travel plans have been affected.
The original article posted Thursday, 30 January, follows below.
Papua New Guinea has without warning barred all flights originating in Asian cities from arriving in the island nation as of 29 January. Tourists planning to travel to PNG from Asian cities will be refused online visas and visas on arrival. The ban, an attempt to keep the recent outbreak of coronavirus from spreading to the country applies to all forms of air, sea and land travel.
There are currently no reports of the virus within Papua New Guinea, however, the Ministry of Immigration announced in a statement that 'all citizens originating from Asian ports will be refused entry to the country effective today (29 January).' PNG's land border with Indonesia's Papua Province has also been closed.
DIVE's World Editor, Douglas David Seifert, was en route to PNG from Vancouver via Tokyo. 'Yesterday was surreal,' he said. 'PNG decided to shut down visas on arrival and [bar flights] from Asian cities, thus our flight via Tokyo was not going to happen.'
'We would need to send our passports to Washington DC from Vancouver to get an overnight visa,' said Seifert, '[and hope to] get it back in time to get a changed flight going through Australia. At this point, we pulled the plug because of uncertainty about what would happen next.'
According to local journal PNG Today, The Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Authority has issued the following statement:
The Coronavirus is moving across borders and we are imposing these measures as the first step in our efforts to ensure this global health concern is prevented offshore.
1. Temporary suspension on Online Visas. All visitors are advised to lodge visa applications at a PNG Diplomatic Mission near you.
2. Temporary suspension of Visa on Arrival for all eligible countries.
3. Temporary shutdown of the Wutung Border Post in Vanimo, West Sepik Province by Thursday 30 January, 2020.
4. Refusal of Entry for travellers from the Asian Ports – All operating airliners and passenger vessels bringing in passengers from any Asian ports will be refused entry into the country.
5. PNG Nationals and Residents re-entering PNG from any Asian countries must go through the mandatory temperature screening and subject to Health Department requirements.
At this point, it is unclear exactly which countries are affected, although the assumption is that it includes all East Asian Nations. At the time of writing (11am, 30 January,) the UK FCO's travel advice does not include the new ban. tourists planning to travel to PNG are advised to contact their tour operators urgently and potentially re-book flights through Australia.
This is a breaking news story, we will update with new information as and when it becomes available.