Prime Ministers Media Releases

PM Marape urges Papua New Guineans tocooperatewithCOVID-19 National Security Emergency Response Task Force

The Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, MP, is urging all Papua New Guineans to cooperate with the COVID-19 National Security Emergency Response Task force to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The Prime Minister made his appeal on Facebook last week.

He asked all people to appreciate each other and give each other a helping hand in times like this.

Prime Minister Marape said since January 28, 2020, 29, 166 inbound passengers were successfully screen and out of those, 6,336 were identified as persons of interest.

He said persons of interest are people (Papua New Guineans and expatriates) who have travelled into the country, through or from countries that have confirmed, reported cases of COVID-19.

“As of 3pm on the 28th of March, the National Department of Health and the Rapid Response Team have cleared over 55% of the persons of interest,” the Prime Minister said.

“This includes the 15 who were in close contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19 at their work place in Hidden Valley, Wau/Bulolo, Morobe Province.

“I would like to thank Harmony Gold, a joint venture partner of the Hidden Valley Mining Project, for working with the government and quickly isolating those 15 people.”

Prime Minister Marape revealed that samples that were collected from the 15 and sent to the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research (PNGIMR) for testing came back with a negative result for COVID-19.

He further thanked ExxonMobil for bringing in 2 of their sick employees at Angore/ Hides for testing where both tests came back negative.

The Prime Minister also revealed test results for a Defence Force Officer, who presented flu like symptoms upon return from Australia after a Defence Program, that came back negative.

He added that to make sure there is no local transmissions, the Government instituted the State of Emergency (SoE) for 14 days, the incubation period of COVID-19, to monitor any reports of possible COVID-19 infections, isolate the person or persons of interest so COVID-19 is not spread to others, do testing and treat if there are positives cases.

“Our SoE induced isolation strategy (lockdown of provincial borders) will allow us to map further whether the virus is in country, where it is if it is in country, isolate the area or province affected and eliminate it.

“Therefore, I ask that you, Papua New Guineans and residents, to bear with us for the next 10 days.

“We are now mobilizing enough medicines and medical personnel protective gears to ensure they are safe whilst serving the sick in our country.

“All our 21 provinces and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville government will be asked to update their health requirements so the National Government will finance them to serve our people better.”

Prime Minister Marape said the Government will reprioritize expenditures and cutaway activities that can be deferred or terminated and focus on health, economy and education for the balance of 2020.

He also took the time to extend his heartfelt thank you to the health workers, police, defence and religious personnel, public servants, members of the private sector, volunteers and politicians who are helping the fight against COVID-19 in PNG.

Prime Minister Official Press Statement on COVID-19 Update

1. 14 Day State of Emergency
This is to ensure we have an isolation strategy so that we can pinpoint if the virus is present in our country after the first breach of security.

2. The first case
Has been transferred to Australia fit and well this morning and will undergo further medical test. The results will be made known to the country.

3. First case's impact assessment
We doing steps retracing for the first case to ensure we have a map of the impact (if any) so we can know correct statistics and put in strategies to deal with the COVID- 19.

4. State of Emergency conduct
- Provincial Government through Provincial Administrators, will coordinate with Provincial Health Authority, Provincial Police Commanders as lead agencies to handle awareness, and coordination of prevention and treatment at the provincial level.
- No public travelling from district to district or province to province in country.

- All schools remain shut for 14 days, all day students to stay at home and all boarding schools including universities and colleges are to maintain boarding of students but no classes are to be taught.

- Essential services will be maintained that includes health services, public utilities, banks, shops, fuel stations, police and defence.

- All employers including public services should scale down workers in this period to ensure safe work place from the spread of Coronavirus.

- PNGDF is on standby for call out to assist Police in this SOE period and beyond.

- All spreading false rumours and organising public gatherings will be charged appropriately.

5. Economic Interventions
I have the pleasure of meeting with Central Bank as well as all Banks CEOs plus the two super funds with the view that specific economic interventions be made for employees, individuals and business in our
country struggling as a result of this crisis we are in.

CONCLUSION
The COVID-19 has not killed one person yet in PNG; the only person test positive after three tests has left our country in healthy state. I ask our citizens not to panic; Government will do everything possible to STOP from coming into PNG, STOP from spreading or lastly STOP from killing patients.

But in the first instance now we want to map out our country within the 14 days to see which part of our country is attacked by the virus as a matter of precaution.

Our people are asked to live healthy and clean, and follow.

NEC APPROVES SET-UP OF NATIONAL ADVISORY BODY AND CONSULTATIVE TEAM ON BOUGAINVILLE

The National Executive Council has approved the set-up of a National Advisory Body and a Consultative Team to engage in consultations with the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Prime Minister James Marape said his Cabinet acknowledges that a consultation process will take place now after the declaration of the Bougainville Referendum result last year.

Therefore, it approved the setting up of a National Advisory Body, a PNG National Consultative Team and an Eminent Group, he said.

The Advisory Body would offer views and advises on behalf of the National Government and people of PNG, and the Consultative Team undertake the consultative process with the Bougainville Consultative Team.

The proposed membership of the Advisory body include community representatives, churches, business community, civil society and prominent men and women and the PNG National Consultative Team include senior members of Parliament and Secretaries of Central Agency Coordinating Committee (CACC) or key government departments.

The two governments are yet to agree on a tentative format and an agenda for the consultation process and it is difficult to gauge how long it will take, the Prime Minister said.

However, there is general hope that it could be concluded before the 2022 National General Election and after the consultation process is done the two governments will commit the outcomes of their deliberations to Parliament for ratification.

It has to be noted that as a non-binding arrangement, Bougainville’s overwhelming vote for independence does not translate to immediate self-determination.

The final decision is the ratification that it is to take place after the joint consultation process and both governments, through the Bougainville Peace Agreement, do recognize the National Parliament as the highest and constitutionally mandated authority in the country.

For such reasons, it is considered crucial that a National Consultative Forum within a specific time frame be held before the consulting process commences, sometimes in March-April 2020