EMPLOYERS are urged to maintain the salaries, wages and employment contracts of all their workers who should not be “disadvantaged” because of the national emergency, according to a government statement.
The statement was released by Department of Labour and Industrial Relations Secretary Ravu Vagi following a meeting yesterday with the PNG Employers Federation and the PNG Trade Union Congress.
“The State of Emergency now takes precedence over everything else.
“All employers and workers will have to comply with all measures that have been issued by the Government (for the 14 days from March 24),” he said.
“As this situation is not brought about by neither the employers nor workers, neither party should be disadvantaged during the 14 days.
“All employers are encouraged to maintain the salaries, wages and employment contracts of all their staff.”
Other matters agreed to include:
- workers to remain at home and employers to embrace safe work practices;
- employers encouraged to exercise flexible work practices throughout the period.
At the end of the 14 days, workers kept in quarantine or under medical observation and cannot work, “should not be disadvantaged”.
Employers are also urged not to “encourage redundancy exercises during the period”.
“As workers are the front-liners and their exposure to the coronavirus deemed high, safety measures either temporary or permanent are built into the workplaces,” he said.
Concerned nurses want demands met today: Official
By LULU MARK
NURSES in Port Moresby will continue their protest until the Government responds to their petition, according to PNG Nurses Association president Frederick Kebai.
The nurses protested yesterday following concerns that those working in the Port Moresby General Hospital emergency department were not provided personal protective equipment such as face masks, gowns, goggles, sanitiser and head protection.
Association officials met with officers from the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations and later gave a list of things they wanted addressed. They want the department to respond by noon today.
They are demanding the proper training of nurses on how to handle Covid-19 cases, provision of personal protective equipment, payment of risk and duty allowances, and the establishment of an isolation/quarantine facility away from the hospital.
Kebai said the association had more than 4,000 members, with around 1,000 based in Port Moresby.
He said Health Minister Jelta Wong had been saying that health facilities were well equipped but nurses and health workers wanted him to come and show where the items he was boasting about were.
He said nurses were yet to be trained on how to handle Covid-19 cases.
“The nurses are confused,” he said.
“They were not able to get to work because there was no transport. We will continue to protest until we get what we want.”
Health Secretary Paison Dakulala said the concerns raised were genuine and he would look into them.
No bus operation in Port Moresby, says Parkop
BUSES will not be operating in Port Moresby for the duration of the State of Emergency period, according to National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop.
He clarified this yesterday as a precaution taken against the spreading of the Covid-19 by social distancing.
“Social distancing cannot be maintained in buses and letting them operate would only encourage the movement of people,” he said.
Parkop said he consulted Prime Minister James Marape yesterday on the matter and they agreed on the ban.
“It is better to be ready than sorry. Therefore our city must be ready.”
Parkop urged city residents to stay at home and restrict their movement in public.
“Just stay at home and help limit the chances of getting infected.”
He confirmed the restriction on travelling between Port Moresby, Gulf and Central.
“The restriction is not only between NCD and the two provinces. It applies nationwide. There cannot be interprovincial travel.”
Parkop said taxis could operate but should carry only one passenger at a time. City residents who depend on buses to go to the market, hospital, shops and work have no choice but to walk, some for long distances from the settlements and suburbs. Those who can afford taxis and rental cars are able to move around more easily.
Meanwhile Parkop rubbished the claim that PNG’s warm climate could repel the Covid-19.
“We have the same climate and temperature as Indonesia, Singapore, Fiji, Malaysia who already have the virus. Even the Africans are being hit by the virus.”
Vision City strict on health measures
THE Vision City Mega Mall in Port Moresby is taking measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and is urging customers to observe health safety practices.
Everyone entering the mall must undergo thermal scanning at all entry points.
“Any staff, tenant or customer exhibiting temperatures exceeding 37.5 degrees celsius is denied entry and requested to seek medical attention immediately,” a statement from the mall management said.
“Every customer is required to have their hands sanitised upon passing a thermal scan prior to being allowed access.
“All commonly touched surfaces such as door knobs, tables, chairs, trolley handles, hand rails, escalator and travelator rails are sanitised on an hourly basis to ensure a clean hygienic environment for all.
“Once the mall closes down for the day, our house-keeping department carries out a full scale disinfecting exercise for the common areas of the mall.”
It said corridors, walls, aisles, bins, pillars and any deemed unsafe or impossible to clean during the day were sanitised.
“All staff are issued with masks and gloves to minimise the spread of pathogens.
“Taxi service providers operating outside Vision City have been advised to sanitise their vehicles daily and drivers to don a mask to ensure the safety of our customers. Non-compliance will result in access being denied.”
It reminds customers that the key to combating the Covid-19 is to exercise hygienic practices, social distancing and if possible remain indoors.
The information can also be obtained through pamphlets available at the information counter in front of City Pharmacy.
Operating hours are from 9am to 9pm but may be changed depending on advice from the Health Department.
Sample testing to begin in city from Wednesday, says doctor
By Rebecca Kuku
SAMPLE testing for the coronavirus (Covid-19) will begin in Port Moresby next Wednesday, according to the Institute of Medical Research.
Deputy director Dr Moses Laman said the testing would be carried out at the University of PNG medical faculty.
“On Monday, we will set it up and train staff on Tuesday. By Wednesday we expect to start testing in Port Moresby,” he said.
Laman said so far, 43 tests had been done.
“It is more cost effective to run many samples at one time as we use a 96-plate testing machine. We can put in 96 samples at one time and run the tests for three hours,” he said.
Laman said the tests were conducted by experts at the institute which was a World Health Organisation-accredited facility. It has been authorised to conduct virology tests.
“We don’t need to send samples overseas. But we will can do so if it is a sensitive case, or if we are asked to by the Government,” he said.
Meanwhile, the 15 tests done on the people who had travelled with the 45-old-man tested positive for Covid-19 last week from Lae airport to the mining site in Bulolo are all “negative”.
Police Minister Bryan Kramer representing Prime Minister James Marape said it meant the virus had not been transmitted.
But health authorities are still trying to trace and contact the 77 passengers and seven crew members who arrived with the man from Singapore on Saturday March 14.
They are also trying to contact the 13 passengers who travelled with him on the Air Niugini flight from Port Moresby to Lae and to Hoskins.
“Once we trace them, we will collect their samples for testing. This is to establish if the virus had been transmitted,” he said.
Kramer said 5000 test kits arrived yesterday.
Bank considering relief on loan repayments by clients
THE National Development Bank will consider rescheduling loan repayments for customers for two months – if it sees the need to.
Managing director Moses Liu said in a statement the bank was currently assessing the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) on businesses.
“The bank will review the effect of the Covid-19 on existing customers after the shutdown period. And where need be, on a case by case basis, we will assist its customers accordingly,” Liu said.
“If the situation necessitates, the bank will consider rescheduling loan repayments for customers for two months.”
The bank had scaled down its operation from Tuesday March 24 to ensure the safety of people during the state of emergency period. “The bank is serious about the health of its customers, employees and their families, stakeholders and the community at large,” he said.
“The bank is observing the measures announced by the Government to ensure a safe work environment.”
The bank has essential staff serving customers from 8am to 3pm during the 14 days.
“Protective measures are being observed for customers and front office staff such as wearing masks, hand gloves, use of sanitisers and regular (cleaning) of surfaces.
“Customers are encouraged to take extra care about their safety and as much as possible make loan repayments through standing orders.”