Police prep for COVID-19 response

POLICE Commissioner David Manning today set in place plans to prepare a Pandemic Plan for the Constabulary should the world outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) reach Papua New Guinea shores.

“The police force will be at the forefront to combat this disease together with the Department of Health and other line responsible agencies so we have to be prepared,” Commissioner Manning said, adding that he is sending out circular instructions to all commanders to initiate their own local business continuity plans in anticipation of the pandemic reaching PNG.

“First and foremost is the education of my members on the disease, its symptoms, ways in which the disease can be contained or prevented from spreading and how my members will be able to protect themselves.

“By nature of our job we are usually the first respondents in any emergency situation. I plan to have workshops and provide factsheets for policemen and women throughout the country so that they are prepared.

“I am also looking at acquiring the necessary equipment such as facemasks and chemicals to sanitise our vehicles and work places. Key and critical information will be made available to policemen and women nationwide so that they take steps to minimise the risk to themselves, their colleagues and especially their unsuspecting families at home.

“The biggest fear right now is misinformation or the lack of information. With information readily made available to policemen and women we can take the necessary steps to protect ourselves,” Commissioner Manning said.

The Commissioner said the workshops will be done in conjunction with relevant responsible government departments and agencies and also with sister disciplined forces such as the PNG Defence Force and the Correctional Services who from time to time are called out to assist the Constabulary on national events or emergencies.

Mr Manning said a pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease which crosses international boundaries and usually affects a large number of people.

“The plan that I am initiating provides a framework for the RPNGC to ensure continuity of government services in the event of a pandemic. Policing services will be affected in the event of an outbreak so we are taking steps now to mitigate its effect. It is predicted that in the event of an outbreak we may lose a minimum of 10 to a maximum 40 per cent of our workforce. This can have a huge impact on our operational capabilities and response to crime.

“Our plan will include shifting our resources around to ensure minimum disruption to our policing operations. It is my desire to ensure that the Constabulary maintains essential services and functions in the event of a pandemic. We will also be required to assist should there be a need therefore it is of critical importance that the Constabulary prepares itself now,” Commissioner Manning said.

Mr Manning said according to the health authorities including the Department of Health COVID-19 has not yet reached PNG.

“Anyone spreading false information or lies are only causing fear, anxiety and panic within the general population. I urge everyone who is intentionally doing this to stop. Anyone intentionally spreading information not from an official source such as the Department of Health will be arrested and charged under our Cyber Crime laws.

“Having an informed society is better than one in which the people are living in fear because of misinformation or lack thereof,” Commissioner Manning said.

Press Release