By CASPER DAMIEN
THE coronavirus Covid-19 is real and it has affected 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 28 million people and has recorded over 1 million deaths since its introduction in a city called Wuhan in Central China.
On Jan 30, 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global public health emergency.
Papua New Guinea is also affected by Covid-19. The numbers of the local transmission are increasing and it is a big challenge for the Government and everybody involved in stopping the spread of local transmission.
With the challenges of increasing number of local transmissions in the country, the churches have also raised concern to be involved in fighting the transmission. PNG Council of Churches (PNGCC) representing the seven mainline churches and 18 associate members has always vocal and spoken out about the need for the churches’ involvement in awareness, dissemination of correct information about Covid-19 to its members.
The government-church partnership has seen PNG Council of Churches partner with Unicef through the State of Emergency (SOE) for the four regional workshop in PNG. Hence, through the help of Unicef, WHO, and SOE the four regional workshops were held successfully from August to October 2020 starting in National Capital District for Southern region, Mt Hagen for the Highlands, Kokopo for New Guinea Islands and Madang for Momase. The contribution of tactical persons from the WHO with the correct information on Covid-19 throughout the regional workshop was really appreciated by the regional church leaders.
The purpose of the regional workshop was to stimulate discussion, disseminate correct information, and partner with the Government and other key organisations to roll out the New Normal measures in Niupela Pasin in PNG in the time of Covid-19 Pandemic. It is the expressed desire of the PNGCC through these regional workshops to give all church leaders an opportunity to learn more about the ‘transitioning to New Normal’ and public health interventions.
The regional church leaders sensitisation workshop was timely as for the very first time church leaders in all four regions of our country are able to come together and have a very rare opportunity to share their real life stories, personal experiences and innovative concepts in relation to raising more awareness and to live a new normal in the time of Covid-19 pandemic in PNG.
Since it is a church programme through the government/church partnership, its emphasis is on the theological aspect of how Covid-19 and its Niupela Pasin can be applicable in the everyday context of the livelihood of the people.
Covid-19 is real and its threat remains the biggest challenge for everyone in the country. It reminds everyone to be vigilant and everyone has a responsibility to prevent and limit the spread of coronavirus. Niupela Pasin is a new culture or way of doing things from the old practices in life that every citizen has to follow. It is about basic health precautions for citizens to accept and to adapt to a new culture in schools, workplaces, churches, and other places of worship, businesses, transport, government and in other places of interaction.
The regional church leaders’ sensitisation workshop on Covid-19 is about fulfilling the PNGCC mission as the prophetic voice of the church to the people of PNG. Hence, doing awareness and workshop of Covid-19 is about achieving its goals.