State of emergency to end today

Editorial

THE state of emergency (SOE) ends today.
The Government imposed the SOE in its effort to have an isolation strategy so authorities can pinpoint if the virus is present after the first breach of security.
The Government on March 24 declared a 14-day partial lockdown after the first coronavirus case was confirmed on March 20.
The purpose of the lockdown and the preventive measures was to put in place mechanisms to control and prevent any further spreading of the virus.
The announcement caused confusion, anxiety and fear among the public.
Many described the directive as harsh despite the restrictions being more relaxed compared to the lockdown but it had to be done.
The fight to contain the Covid-19 pandemic is global. All nations are working together on this.
It was for everyone’s benefit that these measures were put in place – from practising social distancing to getting into crowded areas and the simplest reminder of personal hygiene.
The message of practising hand hygiene (wash your hands regularly with soap and water), respiratory hygiene (cover your cough) and social distancing as a prevention measure was the new rule.
Unfortunately, a big problem with this pandemic is that health measures curtailing the movements of people and social contact has hurt economic activities and businesses.
Our trading partners are hard hit and the effect is already felt in the country.
Stiff border protection measures are being implemented in all countries.
Let’s be honest, a lot of our people who are not properly educated and are gullible to whatever information that is spread and this is how panic starts.
Two glaring areas of concern that popped up during the SOE was the need to disseminate accurate information to maintain order and for people to remain calm.
When there is no information flowing, people will be susceptible to rumours and that does not help anyone.
What our people needed then and right now is accurate, consistent and regular information.
How we communicate about Covid-19 is critical in supporting people to take effective action to help combat the disease and to avoid fuelling fear and stigma.
Use simple language and avoid clinical terms.
The way we communicate can affect the attitude of others.
Another was the failing health facilities and system.
PNG does not have the capacity to deal with this virus if there is an outbreak.
PNG has less than 500 doctors and less than 3,000 nurses for a population well above eight million.
The intensive care unit has only 200 bed spaces. Of those 200 bed spaces, only 44 have oxygen ventilators attached to the bed.
Parliament will decide today whether the SOE ends or is extended. Prime Minister James Marape says a bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament this week on measures to be taken if the state of emergency comes to an end as scheduled today.
This will embrace how we live, how we use transport, how we go to school, how we conduct ourselves in our country so that we remain defensive against the Covid-19 from attacking us and spreading rampantly through our country.
Whatever the outcome, Papua New Guineans should accept the fact that the coronavirus will be the reason to many changes in the country which is unavoidable.

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