By DALE LUMA
THE country cannot afford any more lockdowns or other restrictions on most formal and informal businesses without making the situation worse than the risks from the Coronavirus (Covid-19), an official says.
Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker said this was even if restrictions on some large businesses and worker travel could be achieved with less humanitarian consequences. “Some rules, restrictions and oversight make good sense, but certainly not lockdowns or blanket lockdowns,” Barker told The National.
“E-commerce, government and e-education are barely available, and really only for some households, businesses and agencies in urban areas.
“Many households are not financially included and Government has little data on those in greatest need and lacks financial and logistical capacity to provide support.
“So, impose a lockdown in PNG and serious economic, social and welfare impacts occur, which invariably lead also to negative health and law and order outcomes.”
Barker said the readily accessible vaccination and targets were needed to stop PNG trailing behind other countries.
“The Covid-19 is real and the Delta variant is clearly more contagious, including for younger people, even if they are generally still less at risk from the virus than older people and those with compromised immune systems,” he said.
“PNG needs to better monitor the disease, with wider testing, to gain a better grip on its nature, extent and impact.
“The public needs to apply a range of safeguards, from hygiene, to use of masks, restrictions on gatherings, and especially super-spreader events.
“Those in high risk frontline jobs, especially health workers, food and catering staff, must be vaccinated, to protect themselves (and) to safeguard their clients and colleagues, while others are strongly advised to get vaccinated.
“Other countries are eager to reduce risk of transmission, press to a new normal, and restore critical industries, such as tourism by achieving at least 80 per cent vaccination rates.
“This includes our neighbours Fiji and the Solomon Islands, as well as the developed countries like China.”
By DALE LUMA