LAE - There is no other way to say this to the government of Papua New Guinea.
Prime Minister, you need to issue the orders to shut down our borders starting with our international airports.
While every other country is initiating lockdowns, PNG is still receiving flights from Singapore and the Philippines knowing full well we cannot adequately screen and track suspected cases.
There appears to be no sense of urgency.
We need to shut down our borders and prepare our people before there is an outbreak. Our efforts will be uphill if we allow the global crisis to arrive on our doorsteps.
I know for a fact that passenger traffic has dropped significantly.
If Air Niugini is operating, how much revenue has it made in the last two months? How much of a loss will it be if a shut-down is ordered?
How much of a cost will be for this country if an outbreak happens because we kept our borders open?
Philippines president Roderigo Duterte has locked down Manila City due to coronavirus. Australia has banned public gatherings and initiated some travel bans. US president Donald Trump has banned travel from Europe for the next 30 days. Smaller Pacific Islands have issued orders for their own travel bans.
The amount of investment going into this emergency globally is massive. Fiji has opened a new biomedical lab. Australia has announced a K36 billion stimulus package for its economy.
We are yet to see even an outline of an economic strategy to cushion the effects of coronavirus. There has to be some clarity and certainty on what we as a country can and should do.
We understand there has been an ‘allocation’ of K45 million but none of the provinces yet have a fully functioning coronavirus isolation centre.
Morobe’s Angau Hospital response team is still waiting for the money to come. They are ready to work.
We appreciate all that is being done so far. Your hard work is highly commended. However, members of the National Executive Council need to show leadership and ensure there is trust and confidence by maintaining dialogue with the media.
We, the media, don’t desire a standoff around coronavirus related information gathering and sharing. We want to help.
But it is absolutely frustrating when we get no answers at all or the answers come with little clarity and direction.
Information needs to be shared and people need to be reassured through its timely release at both bureaucratic and political levels.
This is my personal view.