Thursday April 9 2020 : 9:54pm
Directives, emergency orders and restrictions are made to protect Papua New Guineans from getting COVID-19 and to stop it from spreading within the country.
I call on all Papua New Guineans for your patience and understanding during the State of Emergency. We have acknowledged that under the new efforts to return to the new normal there’ll be certain things that we have taken for granted or accepted as a normal way of doing things that we may need to adjust. You only have to look around the world to see the impact of COVID-19.
We are doing everything we could possibly do to protect you as the Health Minister, Health Secretary and Deputy Controller have been informing you.
Easter long weekend:
For the long Easter weekend I have directed that all public transport nationwide are to cease operation as of 12 midnight tonight Thursday the 9th of April and resume for business at 6am on Tuesday 14th of April.
The reason for the temporary shutdown is to promote the COVID-19 health safety messages during the Easter period and basically to stop the spread. As we are rapidly approaching one of the most significant events of the Christian Calendar it is equally important to encourage our people to stay at home. It is proven that social distancing is key to stopping the spread and we cannot risk big gatherings at this time. It possibly unravels the good work and progress we have achieved thus far.
Churches and places of worship have been asked to minimize numbers to no more than 50 per service depending on the size of the worship. However, I am pleased to note that various churches have taken initiative be delivering their sermons over the various radio stations so that their congregations can continue to worship together but in their own homes.
And as far as emergency orders are concerned, a total of 13 Emergency Orders have so far been issued since the SOE began to assist the whole of government response to COVID-19.
As we approach the end of the first week of the two months extension of the SOE we have reviewed the Emergency Orders issued under the initial 14 day nationwide lock down and made the necessary revocations and issuance of new Emergency Orders to allow us to progress under the following strategies. And they are;
* Continued enforcement and enhanced border security;
* Economic recovery and sustainability; and off course
* A return to the “new” normal.
Questions have been asked about domestic Air travel. Whilst we have lifted restriction on domestic air travel for certain airports we have yet to finalise the approval process.
Again, I beg the patience of all our people. This is a process that we have not taken lightly and therefore due diligent has been observed throughout the whole process.
I have a team working on this now and over the long Easter weekend to have the system up and running by Tuesday April 14th.
So by next Tuesday anyone who wishes to travel domestically can apply for approval online on the COVID-19 webpage. Approval will be given should you meet all the strict guidelines we will have in place to protect you from the COVID-19 pandemic.
So again, apologies for the inconvenience but please be patient and bear with us. This will be an added responsibility and burden on your time but it is absolutely necessary for all our safety and wellbeing! As long as COVID 19 continue to be a treat to our people in our country and communities we need to continue to control the social environment.
Update of PNG Government Response:
As an update of the PNG Government Response for today, we continue to receive calls through the call centre even whilst we experienced some technical difficulties.
Over the past 24 hours there have been a total of 2,029 calls. Of this16 cases were accessed to be responded by the rapid response teams. Orders were issued for action by the RRTs. The total number of calls to the call centre to date is 33,798.
We are getting all kinds of call to the call centre, some health related but others concerned about business, job security, finances, and the list goes on.
We are constantly improving and streamlining to assist the community so will be appropriate people to respond to your specific queries. For SOE/security related issues we have dedicated police officers around the clock taking calls.
We have taken note of certain complaints about police conduct. Numerous calls have been coming in with regards to police conduct. A dedicated line will be established within the call centre to call should members of the public experience any harassment by police officers or any members of the Covid-19 Joint agency Task Force.
And as far as the Constabulary is concerned we are approaching this responsively and appropriately by tasking the (Police) Internal Affairs officers around the country who will be on call to swiftly respond and deal with allegations.
Currently there are currently 39 road check points across the country. Six of these are declared road blocks. Members of the Joint Agency Task Force police, PNGDF and Department of Health teams are now in Vanimo, Wewak, Daru and Kiunga. A 40-member Mobile Squad is in Daru as we speak with another 30 in Vanimo.
PNG Defence Force:
PNG Defence Force troops have been deployed to assist Health teams, rapid teams, and church teams in Vanimo, Wewak, Daru and Kiunga. A reserve capacity exists in Wewak, Lae, Manu and Port Moresby, this is to allow us to rotate troops on a needs basis and deal with the national security situation and attend to business as usual. Flooding is affecting the southern border areas so we are considering relief efforts in this area as well.
In conclusion I appeal to the people of PNG for your patience, understanding and cooperation. Be assured that the COVID-19 Joint Agency Task Force is committed to stop the coronavirus from coming into PNG and to stop it from spreading. However, we cannot do it alone. We need your help.
Thank you and God bless you all.
For media contact: Chief Superintendent Dominic D. Kakas, BEM, DPS
Team Leader – COVID-19 Media & Public Information
Mobile: 75430557: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org