The Media Council of PNG is calling on all state agencies involved in policing and securing our borders, and our people against a potential Novel Coronavirus outbreak, to be better coordinated and to collaborate more closely, and to ensure that all preparatory measures are clearly articulated to the mainstream media, if our country’s people are to be kept informed, and reassured of their safety.
MCPNG member journalists who have been covering in-country developments with regard to the Coronavirus, report that state agencies are not working together, and at the worst, have reverted all responses to the National Department of Health. An NEC directive restricting Ministers, other than the Health Minister from speaking on the virus response in each of their areas of responsibility, has not helped in establishing whether ‘screening measures’, against an impending virus outbreak, are as effective as they should be.
The MCPNG calls on all these state agencies to utilize the mainstream media more effectively. We stand prepared to work with every state agency which has some responsibility in being part of a one 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.
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 MCPNG suggests the following to improve the way preparatory work information is being made available to our citizens:
- National Department of Health as the lead agency, to proactively schedule regular briefings and situation reports, and to make these open to all media organisations for coverage;
- For all involved state agencies to proactively update the media on what measures each of them is responsible for; and
- For all ministers responsible for these state agencies, to collaborate and consult more proactively, so that the correct, detailed information is made available for public consumption and awareness.
The MCPNG 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.
MCPNG members have continued reporting on the medicines shortage in the country; and cannot stress enough the enormity of the situation, should there be a coronavirus outbreak in PNG. Much of the drugs currently in short supply in our health centres and hospitals, are first-line antibiotics for cold and flu.
Physical checks at our main international gateway in Port Moresby, currently leave the health of our people, resting on the assumption that every passenger arriving in the country from a port where there are positive coronavirus cases, will be truthful and honest about their health and medical status. We need the right screening equipment to be installed.
Mainstream media outlets continue to be the most credible source that the majority of our people will turn to for information and awareness. Please use us more effectively.
Authorized for Release by: Media Council of Papua New Guinea