‘New normal’ measures to be approved by parliament
By HELEN TARAWA and SAMUEL BARIASI
PARLIAMENT has extended the Covid-19 state of emergency by two weeks to allow MPs time to discuss the “new normal” measures needed before the lockdown ends.
Parliament was also informed of the parliamentary emergency committee’s recommendation that the state of emergency be extended for two months.
Prime Minister James Marape told Parliament that the two-week extension was to allow Parliament time to pass the Public Health Emergency Bill.
The bill is expected to be tabled today by Deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven. It was prepared by his team at Department of Justice and Attorney-General, in consultation with the Health Department.
Marape said the legislation would ensure that the state of emergency powers was “transferred in a structured manner”.
“We have a law that is available for use and we can operate within the structure embracing that law to move out of the state of emergency period but operating in the controlled environment, being sensitive to Covid-19, as we go through the rest of the year,” he said.
“This law will embrace how we go to school, how we go to church and to work, the transport regulations, the new normal of living with the Covid-19 for the rest of our lives.”
He said control would be moved out of Waigani.
“A stronger autonomy will be funneled to provinces so that based on provincial needs, they will design their own programmes on how to deal with the Covid-19,” he said.
“This is new uncharted territory we are in. For us to establish a way forward, there will be a fine compromise to take to ensure that our people are brought back to life as normal as we can, but (accepting) that the threat of the Covid-19 is real among us.”
Parliamentary emergency committee chairman and Bogia MP Robert Naguri said their recommendation was that measures be relaxed except for Western and West Sepik. “A legislation that specifically relates to the containment and prevention of the spread of pandemics, epidemics and infectious diseases such as Covid-19 be enacted before the expiry of the extended SOE,” he said.
He said institutions conducting research into infectious diseases must be reviewed.
“(The Government) should consider establishing an institution such as the Centre for Disease Control similar to the United Kingdom and the United States of America,” he said.
Naguri also recommended that a comprehensive review of the medical procurement and distribution system in Papua New Guinea be done immediately.
“Despite our best attempts to prepare our health sector in the last two months and 14 days, PNG is still not ready at all to deal with an outbreak of Covid-19.”