PNG extends State of Emergency for two weeks

3:15 pm on 3 June 2020

Papua New Guinea's parliament has voted to extend the country's State of Emergency for two weeks.

The SOE, enacted by the government in late March to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic,

was due to expire yesterday.

As parliament resumed following a three month adjournment, MPs voted to extend the deadline into mid-June.

The Papua New Guinea Parliament building in Port Moresby.

The Papua New Guinea Parliament building in Port Moresby. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

A majority of 80 MPs voted for the extension, and only two against.

Under the SOE, some restrictions on border access and public movement remained in place.

In the coming days, MPs were expected to deliberate on measures to be taken once the State of Emergency came to an end.

PNG has only reported eight confirmed cases of the virus so far, but testing efforts have been limited.

The response to the pandemic dominated discussions in the parliament session.

The Health Minister Jelta Wong updated MPs on the pandemic and the Health Department's efforts to prepare and respond to it.

He said the government had "revolutionised the way training is conducted in Papua New Guinea" through virtual training and other new systems.

However, the Governor for East Sepik, Allan Bird, cautioned that PNG health authorities may be under-estimating how many people had been infected by Covid-19 in the country.

Mr Bird revealed that doctors who conducted coronavirus anti-body testing in his province in four locations revealed that 50 people tested positive out of 1,153 samples.