Early pandemic use of face masks in Papua New Guinea under a mask mandate

Authors

  • Mark Raphael Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Goroka, Eastern Highland Province, Papua New Guinea
  • Angela Kelly-Hanku Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Goroka, Eastern Highland Province, Papua New Guinea; Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research, Goroka, Eastern Highland Province, Papua New Guinea
  • David Heslop School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Danielle Hutchinson Biosecurity Program, Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Mohana Kunasekaran Biosecurity Program, Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Ashley Quigley Biosecurity Program, Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Raina MacIntyre Biosecurity Program, Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; School of Public Affairs, College of Public Service and Community Solutions, Arizona State University, AZ, United States of America

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5365/wpsar.2023.14.1.998

Keywords:

masks, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 pandemic, risk factors, data analysis, public health surveillance, Papua New Guinea

Abstract

Objective: During the COVID-19 pandemic, face mask wearing was mandated in Port Moresby in July 2020, but compliance was observed to be low. We aimed to determine the frequency of face mask wearing by the general public in Papua New Guinea under the mask mandate.

Methods: To estimate compliance with the mandate, we analysed photographs of people gathering in Port Moresby published between 29 September and 29 October 2020. Photo-epidemiology was performed on the 40 photographs that met pre-defined selection criteria for inclusion in our study.

Results: Among the total of 445 fully visible photographed faces, 53 (11.9%) were observed wearing a face mask over mouth and nose. Complete non-compliance (no faces wearing masks) was observed in 19 (4.3%) photographs. Physical distancing was observed in 10% of the 40 photographs. Mask compliance in indoor settings (16.4%) was higher than that observed in outdoor settings (9.8%), and this difference was statistically significant (P <0.05). Mask compliance was observed in 8.9% of large-sized gatherings (>30 people), 12.7% of medium-sized gatherings (11–30 people) and 25.0% of small-sized gatherings (4–10 people; photographs with <4 people were excluded from analysis).

Discussion: We found very low population compliance with face mask mandates in Papua New Guinea during the pre-vaccine pandemic period. Individuals without face coverings and non-compliant with physical distancing guidelines are considered to be in a high-risk category for COVID-19 transmission particularly in medium- and large-sized gatherings. A new strategy to enforce public health mandates is required and should be clearly promoted to the public.

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Published

28-03-2023

How to Cite

1.
Raphael M, Kelly-Hanku A, Heslop D, Hutchinson D, Kunasekaran M, Quigley A, MacIntyre R. Early pandemic use of face masks in Papua New Guinea under a mask mandate. Western Pac Surveill Response J [Internet]. 2023 Mar. 28 [cited 2024 Apr. 20];14(1):6. Available from: https://ojs.wpro.who.int/ojs/index.php/wpsar/article/view/998

Issue

Section

COVID-19: Original Research

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