President Lú-Olo declares Timor-Leste state of emergency over coronavirus

Novo Horizonte hotel
Novo Horizonte Hotel at Metiaut ... concerns over overcrowding at Timor-Leste's quarantine facility. Image: Felicidade Ximenes/Tatoli

Pacific Media Watch

The President of Timor-Leste, Francisco Guterres Lú-Olo, has declared a state of emergency to enable the government to address the global Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The state of emergency started last night at midnight and it will run until the night of April 26.

Timor-Leste’s National Parliament unanimously approved the state of emergency declaration in a vote on Friday evening, Tatoli newsagency reports.

READ MORE: Fears Covid-19 quarantine site could actually help spread the virus

The vote followed a formal request from President Lú-Olo. The emergency legislation grants the government additional powers to tackle the virus.

During the debate, the President of the National Parliament, Arão Noe de Jesus da Costa Amaral, said every member had had the chance to speak, but none opposed the bill.

“The results for the vote of request are 64 votes in favour, zero against and zero abstentions. Lú-Olo’s request was approved unanimously in the National Parliament,” Arão said.

Meanwhile, Interim Health Minister, Élia dos Reis Amaral, said authorities would make “every effort” to facilitate social distancing at its Covid-19 quarantine sites – but conceded there were not enough beds for people to sleep separately.

Crowded, unclean quarters
As Tatoli reported yesterday, some of the residents quarantined at Novo Horizonte hotel in Metiaut reported sleeping arrangements of two or three people to a room, and in an unclean environment.

Amaral said the ministry had “registered” those concerns.

“There are cases where two to three people sleep in the same room… The Ministry of Health will continue to strive to resolve this issue,” she told the National Parliament.

The lack of beds forced authorities earlier this week to place 34 Timorese workers returning home from Australia at a government office in Comoro for the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Timor-Leste has one confirmed Covid-19 infection case so far.

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