Police Minister Bryan Kramer made this call during the announcement of a strategic joint task force team to monitor the coronavirus pandemic.
Unconfirmed information being spread on social media on Wednesday, the 18th of March, saw hysterical citizens rush into shops and buy stocks in bulk, leaving empty shelves in their wake.
Known as panic buying, this situation could have been avoided if Papua New Guineans had been responsible as well as critical.
“Everybody has to be responsible during this time because any position they take, or misinformation or sensationalising something, will have a cause and effect on everyday Papua New Guineans,” Police Minister Kramer stated.
Kramer said unlike in developed countries where people have savings, plan for crisis and buy food for two weeks, a majority of Papua New Guineans live day-to-day.
“So we’re asking the press to take a more active role – being responsible reporting, sensible reporting to help the Government and also the relevant departments to manage this.
“So obviously the concern is, if everyone goes and the middle class starts to bulk buy; everyday Papua New Guineans aren’t able to bulk buy. So what happens if the shelves go clean? Other countries have greater supply chains, larger warehouses who supply food, Papua New Guinea may not necessarily.
“Most people are subsistence farmers and if they don’t go to the gardens, it will affect everybody.
“Also, the police and government are tracking down those individuals who are spreading fake news because the last thing we want is a panic situation.”
The Minister says every country is expected to be affected by COVID-19 and in anticipation of that, the Government has stepped up its response through the establishment of a strategic joint task force team to coordinate PNG’s response to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
To date, at least 166 out of a total of 195 countries and territories have confirmed infections.