Thursday 18 June 2020
Controller of the COVID-19 National Control Centre, David Manning, yesterday issued seven new control measures, aimed at continuing the positive government response to the Coronavirus Disease.
Mr Manning expressed his gratitude to the National Government for his reappointment as the Controller to manage the COVID-19 new normal after the State of Emergency ceased on Tuesday 16 June.
The appointment was gazetted yesterday declaring the existence of a COVID-19 pandemic nationwide and giving effect to Mr Manning’s appointment whilst also reconfirming the appointment of the acting Secretary for Health, Dr Paison Dakulala as the Deputy Controller.
“It is important there is continuity and that the Health Department continues to take the lead as this is a public health pandemic and all government agencies including the police force will continue to provide support through the National Control Centre (NCC) formerly the National Operations Centre (NOC).
“The National Government has made a very wise decision to continue monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Mr Manning has given his assurance that he will continue to assist the Health Department manage the pandemic until and unless the World Health Organisation declare the end of the pandemic or until there is a vaccine available.
“We have learnt many lessons from the State of Emergency and our outputs going forward are vital for our overall planning and operationalizing management of other emergencies in the future apart from public health emergencies and this is a positive for the country.
“We are now in the process of finalising a structure for the National Control Centre (NCC). As per the National Pandemic Act 2020, a Technical Advisory Group is expected to be convened within seven days or by June 23.”
The Controller will be requesting the National Executive Council for a Call-Out of the PNG Defence Force to continue with the PNG Government response to the pandemic.
He added the Order issued previously under the SOE and the seven new control measures issued will be reviewed and amendments or new measures will be issued if required.
A consultative committee will be established to ensure there is wider consultation with various interest groups, including the PNG Council of Churches, the PNG Business Council, Transparency International, Chamber of Mines & Petroleum, the Gaming Control Board and others to ensure that all concerns are captured and addressed.
“Obviously we cannot please everyone but we will listen to as many people as we can.
Economic recovery strategy is one of the Controller’s key strategy post SOE and going forward into new normal under COVID-19, hence, there will also be wider consultation and linkages with key government departments for support and advice.
Under the National Pandemic Act, the Controller will be appointing Authorised Officers to oversee the implementation of the National Pandemic or new normal plan which is expected to be completed within the next week.
It is a requirement under the new National Pandemic Act 2020, that Provincial Administrators are also expected to develop their provincial plans as well, which will be an extension of the national pandemic plan but at a specific local or provincial setting.
Controller Manning is expected to provide a report on the SOE to the National Parliament by September 16, 2020.
“For the NCC I anticipate providing a bi-monthly report to Government.
Controller Manning issued the following new control measures under the National Pandemic Act 2020 to assist the PNG Government response to COVID-19: they include:
- Control measure one is on international and domestic travels, which indicate there are only five designated ports of entry into PNG. For international aircraft Jackson’s airport is the only designated airport; for shipping, Motukea, Rabaul, Lae, and Madang are the only authorised ports.
Mr Manning further said, all persons including PNG citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter PNG by aircraft only. Traditional border crossing is suspended for Indonesia, Australia, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Solomon Islands. No person is to board an aircraft from these locations to PNG unless authorised by the Controller.
All persons entering PNG are to be quarantined at the designated hotel in Port Moresby. Foreign diplomats can self-isolate at an appropriate residence for 14 days.
“For provincial and inter-provincial travels land roadblocks of any kind will be authorised only by the Controller should there be a need. Domestic flights are to strictly comply with set health protocols for COVID-19.
- Control measure number two establishes provincial coordination in mitigating COVID-19. It establishes a Provincial Advisory Committee to be set up in each province to coordinate provincial response to COVID-19.
This committee will be chaired by the Provincial Administration and includes the Provincial Police Commander and the Chief Executive Officer of the Provincial Health Authority.
- Pandemic Measure number three deals with burial of deceased persons. God willing we will not head down that way but we have established this measure just as a precaution. Experiences from other countries compel us to issue such a control measure.
- Control measure four deals with customs duties and exempts all customs and import duties on medical supplies and PPEs for the PNG Government response.
- Measure five covers COVID-19 testing. Due to the scarcity of testing equipment and the sensitivity of the pandemic we had to have in place this measure to mitigate the risks.
- Control measure six covers COVID-19 surveillance and testing. Among others this measure states that any person hospitalised or admitted for respiratory illness including cases classified as pneumonia and severe acute respiratory infection shall be considered COVID-19 suspected cases until a PCR test is conducted and returns a negative result.
- Measure seven deals with business and social. For Sports, the PNG Sports Foundation is the body to approve requests for sports to start with the relevant health protocols while gambling venues will operate only on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with licensed nightclubs to open only on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Mr Manning said normal liquor trading hours will apply but only on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays , and added there will be no gathering of 100 people or more.
The Health Department however, will soon launch details of the transition into a “new normal” document or “Niupela Pasin” which will outline specific protocols for individuals, families, communities, schools, businesses, place of worship, work, transport and the basic precautions for protection against COVID-19.
“I strongly reiterated that the country must not relax its guard as the COVID-19 threat remains real and the country with its concerns on the health infrastructure cannot afford to allow spread of the virus to reach especially our sick, people with existing medical conditions, the vulnerable elderly and young people and our workforce.”
Mr Manning has also issued orders to all Provincial Administrations to set up their respective Provincial Control Centres to be headed by the Provincial Administrators.
“ If there is no provincial administrator, an appropriate person will be appointed, while in the case of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the Chief Secretary will assume the role. They have been further directed to develop a provincial response plan in line with the national response plan.
“This is now our life going forward. We do not have the resources or the medical facilities to treat our people should we experience an outbreak.
“That is why we have to be defensive and take drastic measures now to keep the disease out and keep us safe. Part of this includes changing our lifestyles and maintaining a heightened sense of cleanliness and hygiene standards,” he said.
Mr Manning further urged every Papua New Guinean to be vigilant, and continue to practice the health messages of keeping safe distancing, washing our hands regularly, coughing into our elbows, avoid crowds and stay home is you have no reason being outside.
Media contact: Chief Superintendent Dominic D. Kakas, BEM, DPS
Team Leader – COVID-19 Media & Public Information Joint Agency Task Force
Mobile: 75430557:Email: firstname.lastname@example.org