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PNG is at Risk of falling back into repeated Mistakes and Failure in Containing COVID-19 pandemic, Says O'Neill

Papua New Guinea  is at risk of falling back into a repeat of the mistakes made during the COVID-19 State of Emergency -SOE, and failure to manage the COVID-19 pandemic as a health issue instead of a police matter.

Leader of the People’s National Congress Party, Hon. Peter O’Neill, CMG, MP, said more than at any time in the pandemic, the government must be clear in its plans and it must share all relevant information with the public.

“I raise this alarm from a position of great concern for the potential loss of life in our people and communities,” Mr. O’Neill said as public anxiety increases around the country.

“We are all in this together, and now is the time for real action, not empty talk and false hope or hiding from full public scrutiny.

“Health professionals are crying out for government support, for more PPEs, for more testing, and for funding so that they can care for patients, but again all we are hearing about are police lock-downs.

“The Government must respond to serious matters of public concern that have been raised by the media, and detail any plans, if any, to properly protect our country from the further spread of the virus.

“When information is not made public it only feeds rumours, fear and mass panic in the community, as we are seeing today.”

Mr. O’Neill said despite calls from around the country for the truth on all of the promised funding to fight COVID-19, the government has kept information secret.

“Billions of Kina have been raised through COVID loans, and hundreds of millions of Kina gifted from international partners, but there is still no money for Port Moresby General Hospital COVID-19 operations.

“The situation is so bad that health workers are walking off the job out of fear for their own lives because they do not have personal protective equipment.

“Church Health Services have had their funding cut and health workers not paid at the very time when our people need this care and support.

“The government has talked about more than one billion Kina being allocated for SMEs to survive, but they have not been given any real funding and keep being told that it is still coming.

“If all of these billions of Kina have been wasted on other spending, this must be revealed so that so whatever little COVID funds might be left can be used to keep people alive.

“Transparency International PNG already called for this information two months ago but this has been ignored by the government.

“I ask TI PNG to continue to demand answers and if these are again refused they have every right to pursue these matters and refer their findings to appropriate law enforcement authorities and reveal this information to the public.”

Peter O’Neill said the country has had too many months of mismanagement because of indecision, and now at least one person is dead, and the government has to change its course before many more of our people die.

“The suggestion to call in youths who have dropped out of school to work with police, is not only putting their lives at risk because they have no training and limited PPEs, but what authority will be given to the youths to work with police powers?”


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