By GYNNIE KERO
A CURFEW from 8pm to 6am will be imposed in the National Capital District, Central and Western over the next two weeks, according to State of Emergency Controller David Manning.
It means that everyone must stay indoors between those hours, except in cases of emergency and medical assistance.
The order came as five new cases of Covid-19 were reported from those three areas.
The curfew was to come into effect from last night but National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop requested Manning to defer it to today because of the short notice given to business houses and residents.
Manning also announced bans on domestic flights, public transport including taxis, public gatherings and gatherings of more than four people.
“All forms of public gatherings are prohibited expect for (people shopping at) markets, supermarkets, fuel stations, seaports, airports, hotels, banks, pharmacies, healthcare providers and shops licensed to trade.
“The sale, purchase and public consumption of alcohol is prohibited.”
The new restrictions mean people in NCD, Central and Western will remain indoors between 8pm and 6am, and have to find their own transport or walk to shops and wherever else they want to go.
Manning said a member of the Joint Agency Task Force based in Port Moresby had tested positive for Covid-19.
“The person has since been isolated and quarantined,” he said.
“Contact tracing has begun including places visited and persons contacted. The person is well at this moment. But as a best practice health and safety response, we have locked down the taskforce national operations centre to carry out testing on all staff.”
Manning called on the people of NCD, Central and Western to remain calm.
“Everyone should continue to practise the safety and health messages we have been sending out,” he said.
Bus fares to increase by 50 toea: Terema
By SAMUEL BARIASI
PEOPLE who travel by bus in Port Moresby will have to pay K1.50 as the standard fare for all routes from next week, according to the Road Traffic Authority.
Chief executive officer Nelson Terema said the extra 50 toea was to make up for the reduction in the number of passengers in the 25-seater buses, which came into force because of the social distancing rule. They now are allowed to carry a maximum of 15 passengers.
He issued the statement yesterday before the ban on all public transport for the next two weeks was announced by State of Emergency Controller David Manning.
Terema said there were 780 buses and 1,680 taxis registered to operate in Port Moresby.
He said according to the licences, buses must complete their routes.
“In the past (some) drivers (never completed their routes and) dropped passengers here and there. That is being discouraged,” he said.
He said facilities would be provided for buses and taxis to be washed every day.
The RTA has been educating bus drivers and taxi operators this week on how to operate during the lockdown.
It emphasised that:
- 25-seater buses must carry only 15 passengers;
- the fare must be K1.50;
- drivers and crews must be (properly) attired;
- buses must be clean inside and outside.
He urged operators to comply with the emergency orders.
Parkop tells city residents to remain calm, obey rules
NATIONAL Capital District Governor Powes Parkop has told city residents to remain calm and not panic. It came after the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in the capital city.
“This is a situation I did not want. We all have been praying and hoping that we don’t get it. But this day has arrived,” he said.
“(But) don’t listen to social media rumours. Only listen to the Prime Minister James Marape, State of Emergency Controller David Manning or Health Minister Jelta Wong.”
He said the 8pm to 6am curfew would start tonight. It was to have started last night. But Parkop requested Manning, NCD-Central police commander Assistant Commissioner Anthony Wagambie Jr, and MetSupt Perou N’dranou to defer it to tonight.
“This will give (people) time to organise themselves, (their) workers if working into the evening and organise (their) families,” he said.
He said police would also advise the people about the curfew orders.
He said the Government came up with the curfew to protect the people. Parkop urged everyone to stay at home, practise safe hygiene and wear face masks.
Parkop said the Rita Flynn Covid-19 isolation centre was ready to take in any suspected people who were sick.
University awaiting green light to resume classes
THE University of Goroka is waiting for the green light from State of Emergency Controller David Manning to resume lectures, says vice-chancellor Professor Musawe Sinebare.
He welcomed the statement from Manning and Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Secretary Fr Jan Czuba, for classes to resume.
He said they would have to start lectures from week four of semester one.
He said the eight-week shut down began after only three weeks of lectures.
He said the academic senate agreed to review the academic calendar and make the necessary changes. Staff would follow the new calendar beginning with lessons from week four.
“Those students who do not return to classes on or before the resumption dates should still be able to access lessons via some modem. For those on campus, all Covid-19 protocols are already in place,” he said.
Prime Minister James Marape said the state of emergency would be lifted on June 2.
He said the two month extension up to that date was enough time to put in place protocols needed to safeguard the country in terms of its economy and people’s health.
This is in line with measures taken by universities to have their own programmes to guide them in the event of a suspected case cropping up on campus.
Namah calls on Marape, officials to undergo testing
OPPOSITION Leader Belden Namah says the confirmed Covid-19 case at the National Operations Command Centre means that Prime Minister James Marape and other MPs frequenting it must go into self-isolation.
The centre at Morauta Haus in Port Moresby is where the daily Covid-19 media briefings are held daily. Marape, Police Minister Bryan Kramer, Health Minister Jelta Wong, acting Health Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala and State of Emergency Controller David Manning conduct the briefings.
Manning said yesterday all those who came in contact with the officer would undergo testing.
Namah said it was important that everyone who had come into contact with the officer at centre should be tested as required under the Manning’s order.
“This literally means that the prime minister, police minister, health minister, Manning and every worker and persons who visited the centre must automatically go into self-isolation,” Namah said.
“The announcement has raised serious questions as to how the government will manage the coronavirus pandemic response.”
Namah said the discovery of the case at the centre raised more questions than answers.
“What measure are in place to ensure the safety of the people entering the building and other government facilities? Now is not the time to assign blame but to correct procedures so that our people can be better protected.
“There is almost no PPEs (personal protective equipment) such as face masks worn during the televised news conference we have witnessed. There was no social distancing practised in that building.
“Now that all staff and leaders are legally required to go into self-isolation, what measures are in place to ensure that the state of emergency continues to be managed?
“What is the succession of authority plan?”