Parliament extends SOE for Covid-19

Friday 5 June 2020

Parliament on Tuesday  June 2, extended the  Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) state of emergency  for another 14 days, with 80 votes to  2.

                                PM James Marape

Prime Minister James Marape  supported the  extension of  the State of Emergency, given the rising  global  cases and deaths of Covid-19.

In his statement to Parliament on June 2, Mr Marape  highlighted the  global situation of Covid-19 which stood at 6,365,473 confirmed cases, and 372,765 deaths.

“The statistics and global trend compels us to think that we mustn’t be complacent. We must always be on guard in ensuring that we protect our citizens from being exposed to someone who is Covid-19 infected and for that person not to pass on to someone else.

“That is why remaining vigilant  has been our Government’s priority strategy. We remain vigilant and be defensive within the context of our own capacity we have in our country.”

As far as testing is concerned, Mr Marape  said two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19 in the country : the viral tests  (PCR) and antibody tests (RDT).

“We have been able to conduct 5000  PCR  tests and 12000  rapid diagnostic tests. The difference is that  a viral test tells you if you have a current infection, while an antibody test tells you if you had a previous infection.”

Mr Marape assured Members of Parliament  that  as a result of testings,  there was no evidence of community transmission from the first Bulolo case and the one in East New Britain.

Mr Marape  further paid tribute  to mothers, children, clergymen and churches for fasting and praying so that  Papua New Guinea could be able to stop the spread from the eight cases of Covid-19.

“Speaking on day 72 (since the beginning of our  SOE operations)   just because the statistics is at eight and there is no evidence of the actual COVID-19 transmission in communities, we are seated with sound minds and elements of complacency.

“Our state of the economy or state of our national health is not something we are proud of.”

However when  commenting on the Parliamentary Permanent Committee on Emergency’s  (PPCE)recommendation for an extension of two months for the state of emergency, Mr Marape said, PPCE is an independent committee and does not represent the  views of the executive government.

The PPCE    recommended  for a two month extension of SOE due to  PNG’s weak health system and is not well equipped to deal with an outbreak of Covid-19.

However  Mr Marape  has proposed a law, entitled  Public Health  Emergency Bill, that will be deployed during the  existence of Covid-19 and other pandemics and diseases.

“This law will embrace how we will go to school, church, work and use of the transport regulations, the new normal of living with Covid-19 for the rest of our lives.”

The bill will be tabled in the next sitting of Parliament and Papua New Guinea could be the first country to pass such a law that will  guide how  citizens  live with Covid-19.

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