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Now is the Time to Unite and Fight the Coronavirus, says former PNG PM O'Neill

The Coronavirus Pandemic, COVID-19, is the greatest threat to the men, women and children of the world in one hundred years, but for Papua New Guinea, this is the greatest threat our people have ever faced. This is according to to former PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill.

Peter O’Neill, as Prime Minister having led the response to previous disasters, said he commends immigration and health officials for their work to prevent the Coronavirus from entering our country, but right now plans must be in place for the inevitable spread to our people.

“Now is the time for unity and we must all work together for our people and put politics aside,” Mr. O’Neill said.

“The second phase of the Coronavirus outbreak is where the real fight begins so that we can prevent the loss of so many lives around our country.

“We must be properly engaged with our partners in other countries who are dealing with the domestic spread of the virus, particularly countries where the peak of the spread has been reached and is now reducing.

“Drawing from their experience, and applying this to unique circumstances in Papua New Guinea, we must be fully prepared to implement measures that will work effectively in our communities.

With the detection of the virus in Papua New Guinea these include:
* Medical checks at entry points airports and shipping ports must be mandatory and properly resourced.
* We cannot shut all the entry points, but we have to keep them open for supplies particularly food and medicine, and medical personnel. If we do not, supplies will run out and people will starve, and our response to the pandemic will be undermined.
* We must keep only Jackson Airport open for inward flights for screened passengers and goods. We need to fly more medical test equipment in immediately for all major hospitals. There is no time to waste and muck around.
* We simply do not produce enough to feed our population, therefore we must keep Lae and Port Moresby Sea Ports only open for goods to come in and all other ports shut down to international shipping. These three shipping ports must be under very strict quarantine controls and medical checks.
* We must advise that all schools should shut down for two months as extended school holidays and to be recovered through the normal holiday period sacrifice. With school fees saga, schools are already in a mess so this will allow us time to manage this issue even better.
* All government departments should shut down except for essential services which will include hospitals, water, power, security forces. These must remain open to deliver essential services.
* Both the private sector and government need to scale down operations and send non-essential staff home. This must be on full paid leave for two months that is to be funded by government through tax concessions.
* Financial institutions need to support their customers and business with some relief so there is no added financial pressure to families and businesses.

“It is essential that both government departments and the private sector should not use this crisis as an excuse to sack people, but be socially responsible.”

Mr. O’Neill said he is also concerned at the structure of the Government’s ad-hoc COVID-19 committee with little capacity for decision making, that will not work.

“What is needed is a properly coordinated task force, made up of decision makers from intergovernmental agencies that will be able to effectively pull the resources together for this battle that lays ahead.

“We are in this fight together and will only get through it by working together.”

Next :

Papua New Guinea Shutting Down International Flights

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