STATE OF EMERGENCY
OFFICE OF THE CONTROLLER
MEDIA RELEASE Friday April 3rd 2020
Parliament extends State of Emergency for 2 months
The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Hon. James Marape has announced that the National Parliament unanimously voted to extend the State of Emergency (SOE) for two additional months, to enable the government to continue its response to stop the coronavirus or COVID-19.
The 14 -day lockdown which began on 23 March ends on April 6. New measures will be in place for the next two months of the SOE.
The Prime Minister had a media conference today with the Controller of the State of Emergency , David Manning and the Acting Health Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala.
Below are the main points of the media conference:
Security: Current restrictions on international flights remain
Controller of the State of Emergency and Commissioner of Police David Manning said the current restriction on international flights will remain with the extension of the SOE.
Mr Manning said that in 14 days from Tuesday next week the government will make an announcement on strict protocols to facilitate the uplifting of some 50-plus citizens abroad.
He said this will also include other foreign nationals who are considered essential to assist PNG in the fight against the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.
Upon return all international passengers will be required to be in quarantine for 14 days in facilities which have been identified and are being developed.
The Controller also announced a number of security measures that will be in place during the SOE. These include:
• Resumption of domestic flights as of Tuesday 7 April for Port Moresby, Mt Hagen, Lae, Madang and Rabaul. However, COVID-19 hygiene restrictions and testing will apply. Passengers will also be required to provide a statement for the purpose of their travel to avoid unnecessary travel during the SOE;
• Sale of alcohol will be restricted only to all major retail supermarkets, restaurants, and hotel. All bottle shop outlets in urban, settlement and village areas will remain banned from the sale of alcohol;
• All primary, secondary and tertiary schools will remain on Easter Holidays with Term 2 commencing on 27 April 2020;
• Public transport will resume on Tuesday 7 April and will strictly apply COVID-19 health and safety measures. The number of passengers will be restricted taking into account physical distancing. A 25 seater will be expected to carry 15 passengers. Buses normally carrying 15-12 passengers will now carry five passengers less. The buses are also expected to do regular wash downs as well;
• The current established provincial road blocks will remain in place until the Controller gazettes the location of the national and provincial sites. All essential services will continue to travel including fuel, food, medical supplies, equipment and essential service employees;
• Isolation facilities will be established in all provinces;
• COVID-19 testing commenced today (Friday 3rd April) in Port Moresby and Lae airports and seaports for passengers as well as airline and port staff;
• Rapid Response Teams consisting of NDoH, volunteers, Police, PNG Defence Force started today with 8 tested in Daru, Vanimo, Kiunga and Wewak. Samples will be collected every second day and tested in Port Moresby; and
• There are strict penalties for any person or company who breach SOE Emergency Orders. Penalties includes fines and imprisonment for a breach that leads to an infection.
“The SOE is in place to ensure the safety and health of our people whilst we enter a new way of life under the COVID-19 restrictions. The RPNGC and PNGDF will continue to patrol and attend to all security and crime issues within PNG and along the common border areas,” Mr Manning said.
Health: PNG increase COVID-19 testing efforts
Acting Secretary for Health and Deputy Controller of the SOE, Dr Paison Dakulala said the PNG Health Department with support from the National Government are now ramping up their screening and testing efforts as the country continues the State of Emergency for the next two months.
A multi-disciplinary team of 32 trained personnel from the Health Department and PNG Defence Force have started rapid response testing in all the seaports and airports in the country today.
“Volunteers from the University of PNG medical school, health workers, police and the army have been trained to provide rapid response testing at the borders,” said Dr Dakulala.
Other key health responses include:
• Samples to be collected every second day and airlifted to Port Moresby and PNG Institute of Medical Research for testing.
• Broader testing, which is a part of the Health Department’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan to screen points of entries in the country will ensure that airline and seaport workers are safe.
• Part of the Emergency Response Plan is to undertake border COVID-19 testing at the PNG-Indonesian border as well as all provinces.
• The testing for persons of interest will also be done in Lae and Port Moresby where the index case had travelled.
• As of today 5,673 of the 6,485 persons of interest have completed their 14 days quarantine while 73 of the 86 people under investigation have been cleared.
• In addition, laboratory results for 12 people still pending while 20 contacts under investigation have been cleared.
• While there are NO confirmed cases in the country except for the index case, the government with support from the Joint Agency Task Force for COVID-19 is working with the provincial health teams to respond to people’s request for screening.
Dr Dakulala said, “The tests we have done so far are for people with cold and flu and breathing difficulties only. These are people who have been in contact with the Index Case including callers who call the Toll-Free Number 1800200 and report symptoms.
“While the Government has relaxed some restrictions, people must remain vigilant in their health care and continue to observe health and sanitation roles being made in this pandemic period.”
Approved for release
David Manning, MBE, DPS, QPM
Commissioner of Police & Controller of the State of Emergency
For media contact: Chief Superintendent Dominic D. Kakas, BEM, DPS
Team Leader – COVID-19 Media & Public Information
Mobile: 75430557: Email: email@example.com