PORT MORESBY - The Media Council of PNG is calling on all state agencies involved in policing and securing the country’s borders and people against a potential novel coronavirus outbreak to be better coordinated and to collaborate more closely.
It also says PNG must ensure that all preparatory measures are clearly articulated to the mainstream media if people are to be kept informed and reassured of their safety.
Council member journalists who have been covering developments report that state agencies are not working together and many refer all responses to the health department.
A National Executive Council [Cabinet] directive restricting ministers other than the health minister from speaking on the virus response has not helped in establishing whether screening measures against an impending virus outbreak are as effective as they should be.
The Council has called on state agencies to utilise the mainstream media more effectively.
“We stand prepared to work with every state agency which has some responsibility in being part of a PNG government approach to installing protection and prevention measures to keep our people safe, and more importantly informed of developments with regard to the coronavirus,” the statement said.
“We have already seen the onset of what has been confirmed as misinformation about positive cases of coronavirus in the country. This misinformation can lead to widespread panic and disorder, if our people do not have the relevant and credible information they need.”
The Council suggested the following ways to improve the way information is made available to citizens:
The health department as the lead agency schedule regular briefings and situation reports and make these open to all media organisations
Involved state agencies update the media on what measures each of them is responsible for
Ministers responsible for these state agencies collaborate and consult so correct and detailed information is made available for public consumption
The Council understands that a decision by the National Executive Council lifted a travel ban which was earlier put in place by the Immigration and Citizenship Authority.
“It is the MCPNG’s fervent hope that corporate and diplomatic interests do not override our collective efforts to keep our people safe,” the statement said.