Pacific Media Watch

23 April 2020

PNG: Media Council calls for ‘transparency’ over coronavirus – news media tested

Port Moresby's Morauta Haus, headquarters of the National Operation Centre ... under quarantine and no more media conferences. Image: EMTV News

PORT MORESBY (Asia Pacific Report/EMTV News/Pacific Media Watch): The PNG Media Council has called on Papua New Guinea’s Joint Task Force National Operations Centre-19 to maintain “transparency and accountability” in its daily briefings on the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in a statement critical of discontinuation of media conferences.

The NOC-19 team advising mainstream media has announced that there will be no more media briefings on how the government is addressing the covid-19 crisis until further notice.

Papua New Guinea has had eight confirmed cases so far and no deaths. But there are fears that the nation’s under-resourced public health system could be easily overwhelmed if there is a serious outbreak.

READ MORE: PNG PM, ministers test negative for covid in lockdown

NOC-19 Media is the team headed by Chief Superintendent Dominic Kakas from the Police Media Unit set up to coordinate media conferences out of NOC-19, the heart of the James Marape-led coalition government’s response to covid-19

The announcement from Chief Superintendent Dominic Kakas, posted on the Prime Minister’s Media Whatsapp Group, informed media groups of the change, reports EMTV News.

It was explained that due to the quarantine of the National Operation Centre, located at Level Three of Morauta Haus, there would be no media conferences and the NOC-19 Media Team would distribute prerecorded statements to mainstream media.

The announcement from NOC-19 Media Team comes hours after covid-19 results from a second batch of media personnel returned negative today.

The statement issued by the PNG Media Council called on the Joint Task Force National Operations Centre-19 to maintain transparency and accountability in its daily briefings.

Since last Thursday, when all media personnel had their samples taken for covid-19 testing and remained in quarantine, recorded media statements on covid-19 were filmed by the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and distributed to all media groups for publication.

While media personnel have acknowledged the work of NOC-19 Media during the last six days, journalists are asking if press conferences can be held again so reporters can ask questions to the State of Emergency (SOE) Controller, ministers or the Health Secretary.

The Media Council’s statement further outlined the serious breach of security at NOC-19 which resulted in more than essential workers, including media personnel to be tested for covid-19 and quarantine away from their families.

All these workers have had to deal with stigma from their immediate families and their communities, describing it as an unwarranted price to pay for the ignorance of personnel providing security at Morauta Haus.

The Media Council has urged journalists and reporters to maintain their scrutiny over every aspect of the country’s response to covid-19.

Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators. (cc) Creative Commons