PNG Education Department Asked to Shut School Early for Two Weeks Due to COVID-19

It is reassuring to learn that on Sunday (22 March 2020), the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea laid out the plan for the fight against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. 

Together we fight against COVID-2019

PNG Insight raised the question of school closure and possible implications on students' learning.  Read the two articles earlier: 

Regardless of the people's expectations of the leaders in the government, today is a time to come together and fight as a team - leaders and people together as one. 

PNG PM laid-out 13 control-measures to limit and stop movement of people across the international, national and provincial borders; as well as among people within the community in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Are schools closing?

The Prime Minister made it absolutely clear that schools should close early for Term 1 holiday on Monday, 23 March 2020.

Of the 13 resolutions at the emergency parliamentary council meeting, point 8 in the press release read:
"8. Education and Higher Education departments are asked to advance first term holiday as of tomorrow 23rd of March and the next 14 days are to be school holidays". [PM Press Release, Sunday 20/03/2020]
It appears that the students will have an early 2-week holiday whilst the govt assesses the COVID-19 situation in the country.

Australia issue level 4 travel restriction

The Australian High Commission in PNG issued a level 4 security warning - the highest travel warning from a scale of 1 to 4. 

do not travel overseas australia

Below is the PM's press release of the 13-point plans

Today based on advice from the COVID-19 National Operation Centre (NOC 19) and National Security Council (NSC) recommendations, the National Executive Council (NEC) in an emergency meeting has decided on the following measures in light of the first positive case of COVID-19 in our country.

This is a national security issue now and not just a health issue but a cross-cutting issue including the effect on economy, law and order and education of our children amongst other effects. Hence the relevance of the following measures.

So far we have done trace of the person that came into our country and he remains to date our only positive person who is in isolation and recovering but to clearly demarcate our country from the spread and for Government to take stock from this biosecurity breach, we are taking the following measures.

 1. Confirm this first case and it’s the impact to ensure we contain its impact including treating, curing and sending the victim back to Australia.

 2. Taking stock of all entry into PNG after 7th of March to ensure all are checked, tested and status of health affirmed. All who have come in or those that have come in contact with those who came into PNG since 7th of March are to report to the hotline below.

 3. Declare a State of Emergency for 30 days in which the Commissioner of Police will assume control assisted by a callout placed on the military to ensure lawful order, control and response to SOE control measures.

 4. Following on our stop of incoming international flights, we now stopping all domestic flights for the next 14 days starting on Tuesday this week.

 5. We direct that as of Tuesday 24th March 2020, no Public transportation of people and no movement from one province to another for a 14 day period. Only approved cargo and medicine and police /military personal will be moving.

 6. The Provincial Governors and their Provincial Administrators with Provincial Police Commanders with the respective Provincial Health Authorities will be control points in all province.

 7. All heads of departments and private companies are to embrace safe workplace practice and non-essential staff are asked to stay at home for the next 14 days.

 8. Education and Higher Education departments are asked to advance first term holiday as of tomorrow 23rd of March and the next 14 days are to be school holidays.

 9. All who have come into the country as from the 7th of March 2020 or those who made contact with those who came into the country from that date please report, call or text to the hotline below.

 10. No border crossing by foot or canoe and police /army presence in border areas will be stepped up.

 11. Banks and financial institutions and super funds will be mobilised to work with Government on economic packages in this downtime.

 12. The SOE controller through the office of Prime Minister will be the only official point of releasing statements to the public.

 13. The SOE controller will issue on details on how citizens and our country respond and behalf in this time and breach of those will be punished as an offence in times of emergency.

We have now mapped the country into zones to isolate this virus from spreading. 
  • The mid PNG zone from Morobe and Madang Provinces into the entire highlands,
  • the Central Papua (including NCD, Central and Gulf), 
  • the Niugini Island Zone, 
  • the Sepik Zone, 
  • the Western Border Zone and 
  • the Bougainville Zone.

The SOE commander will delicate the PPCs to police the zones to ensure lawful abiding to this control measures.

We will get through this phase, we ask from the corporation from all citizens, residents and businesses houses.

God bless PNG.

Press C19/ 22.03.20 | Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape

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