By ROSELYN ELLISON in Kokopo
THE seven wards in the Raluana local level government (LLG) of Kokopo district, East New Britain have been on lockdown since Monday after a woman was tested positive for Covid-19.
She became the second confirmed positive case in the country. The first case, a man who had flown into the country from Europe last month, has left the country.
Senior Constable Andrew Nasala, the leader of the Covid-19 response team, said they had set up roadblock at the Raluana-Kuradui junction to monitor the movement of vehicles and people.
No one from the Raluana LLG is allowed to travel to Kokopo or Rabaul.
“We are keeping a close eye and we are tight on security here,” he said.
“We will be here 24 hours. So we are asking everyone to stay at home and indoors.”
Nasala said the best way to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 was to stay at home.
The wards are Raluana, Ialakua, Barawon, Nguvalian, Vunatagia, Bitabaur and Vunamurmur.
“People are not allowed to leave their home,” Nasala said.
Raluana ward member Eliab Waila urged authorities to keep the woman in isolation at her home.
Waila also called for temporary clinics to be set up at Raluana for the benefit of the people from the seven wards.
Churches support State on Covid-19]
By LULU MARK
CHURCHES are working with the Government to ensure people receive the support they need to deal with the Covid-19 threat, a church leader says.
PNG Council of Churches official Cardinal Sir John Ribat said the state of emergency and lockdown had affected regular church services and activities.
The churches have also launched the PNG Hour of Hope programme to be broadcast live on the National Broadcasting Corporation TV, radio and provincial radio stations daily from 8am to 9am for the next nine weeks.
Sir John said each church was assigned a week to relay pastoral messages. Officials from the Health Department and World Health Organisation (WHO) will also provide information on Covid-19.
“We really need to make our people aware of the danger of the disease and how to stop its spread,” he said.
“In this way we will give the necessary information to make our people aware of the danger and practices that cause its spread.
“The church would like to work together with the Government in this way.
“We are united in confronting the spread of the virus among our people.”
He said with the second case of Covid-19 being confirmed in the country there was fear and anxiety among the people but it was important to ensure that access to the right information was maintained.
Sir John urged people to tune in to the radio and turn on the television to hear messages of hope and be strengthened during this period of uncertainty.
For Easter, he said there would not be any large gatherings but the meeting of the believers should continue with the minimum of 50 people at one time.
Kramer: PNG man in Laos got sick there
Police Minister Bryan Kramer says the East New Britain man in Laos who has been tested positive for Covid-19 did not contract it here.
Kramer, representing Prime Minister James Marape on Covid-19 matters, said the 55-year-old man began showing symptoms 27 days after he left the country.
“This suggests that there is no way he had Covid-19 while he was in PNG,” Kramer said.
The man is employed by the Phu Bia mining company in Laos on a fly-in fly-out basis.
Kramer said the man was not related to the 40-year-old East New Britain woman who tested positive on Monday in Kokopo.
Kramer said the man developed symptoms of Covid-19 on April 3.
“Today (yesterday) I spoke to him personally to (check on) his wellbeing,” Kramer said.
“He is fine and he is being looked after by the company. He has very mild symptoms, a mild cough and fever.
“We also contacted his wife to establish if there are any symptoms in the family. They confirmed that there are no symptoms.”
The family has been quarantined at home. The rapid response team travelling to Kokopo will carry out contact tracing and take samples from them.
“It’s important to note that the evidence suggests that the person who contracts Covid-19 will demonstrate symptoms in five to seven days.”
O’Neill calls for clearer information on coronavirus
FORMER Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has urged the Government to provide clear and credible information on Covid-19.
The Ialibu-Pangia MP said there was no need for secrecy and hiding of information as in wars.
“Clear and credible communication is essential if our people are to have trust in the Government, and to work together to prevent massive loss of life in Papua New Guinea like we have seen around the world,” he said.
“The virus cannot read so the release of sensitive information does not pose a threat to the success of the operation.
“We can and we must share all available relevant information with the public. Everyone in our country is in this fight together, be us members of parliament, senior public officials, business leaders and every man, woman and child in our country.
“I hope Government can take this statement and request for information in the way that it is meant, as an opportunity to provide clarity and certainty to our people in this time of heightened concern.”
O’Neill urged the Government to release the coronavirus map of the country that it promised to release last Friday.
“The Government must be honest and tell the country if there is a coronavirus map of PNG, and if they have identified other potential cases of coronavirus in the country and where these are located.”
The detailed information on the state of testing facilities in the country must be released, O’Neill said.
He said the information should state clearly if the testing facility was operational in Port Moresby and provide information on how many tests can be run each day around the country.
“When the 40-year-old infected patient was announced (on Monday), it was claimed that she had been under surveillance as a person of interest since March 23, and that she went to the hospital with coronavirus symptoms over a week ago,” O’Neill said.
“Why did it take two weeks to have this patient tested?
O’Neill said the Government should reveal the truth about the medical care isolation facilities it claims to have prepared in Port Moresby and other centres.
“We are hearing very disturbing news from people in the healthcare system that these facilities are not yet operational, and do not have sufficient medical staff or personal protective equipment for workers,” he said.
Namah calls for parliament sitting to pass mini-budget
OPPOSITION Leader Belden Namah says the Government should recall Parliament to approve a supplementary budget which should include the K5.6 billion Covid-19 economic stimulus package.
Parliament last Thursday approved the declaration of the national state of emergency on the Covid-19 pandemic where the economic stimulus package was tabled.
Namah said the stimulus package could not come into effect without a supplementary budget.
Namah told reporters yesterday that the Opposition was disappointed with the Government’s failure to address the effects of Covid-19 on the “struggling private sector and the families” by not introducing a supplementary budget immediately to give effect to the K5.6 billion stimulus package.
“Instead, they (Government) will introduce their fiscal stimulus package in the June session of Parliament – two months away,” he said.
“This is a very big let-down for our people. Why should we condemn our people to fend for themselves until June?”
“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has already declared that the world is in recession and so far 80 countries are now seeking IMF bailout assistance.”
Prime Minister James Marape said yesterday the K5.6 billion economic stimulus package was in the supplementary budget already passed by the Parliament.
“So there is no need to go back to the Parliament to pass that budget.”
Namah also accused the Government of using the Covid-19 as an excuse to correct their 2020 budget “which was doomed to fail anyway”.
He said the 2020 national budget had a deficit of K4.6 billion to be financed domestically by K857.7 million and externally by K3.873.8 million.
But according to Treasurer Ian Ling Stuckey’s statement in Parliament last Thursday, the Government had to back-flip on its fiscal policy.
“It is now looking to borrow K2,500 million domestically, and K1,500 million externally.”
He said only K1 billion was added to the initial K4.6 bill deficit to make up the K5.6 billion stimulus package.
“In other words, the actual fiscal stimulus package is K1 billion, not K5.6 billion, because K4.6 billion of that will finance the initial 2020 Budget deficit.”