‘Work together’ plea by Bougainville leader over covid-19 surge

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Ishmael Toroama
Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama ... “Under the new normal initiative, we must contain covid-19 and mitigate its spread throughout the region." Image: APR

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

Bougainville President Ishmael Toroama has urged his people not to take a surge in covid-19 positive cases lightly, reports the PNG Post-Courier.

He said the pandemic had reached a large proportion globally — and even locally in Papua New Guinea where the seriousness of the crisis was shown by an alarming number of deaths and reported positive cases.

Toroama said the measures being instituted by the government were not to subdue individual rights to freedom of movement and the freedom to health care, they were a protective measure to protect lives.

“Under the new normal initiative, we must contain covid-19 and mitigate its spread throughout the region. We must work together to manage it,” he said.

Toroama also said vaccination was voluntary and no one would be forced to take it.

“However, those who opt not to receive the vaccine must not impede the rights of those who are willing to take it — everyone is entitled to healthcare in the region,” he said.

“No one must impose on the rights of the ones who want access to it.

Covid protocols apply
“For the Autonomous Bougainville Government, we do not have a ‘No Jab, No Job’ policy but covid-19 protocols still apply in the workplace environment.

“The 14-day lockdown imposed by the covid-19 response team is a direct response to the recent surge of covid-19 cases that we have in the region.”

He said the steps taken by the Pandemic Controller and Secretary of Health Clement Totavun were necessary to “keep our people safe”.

“I urge all to support the Covid-19 Response Team’s efforts to curb the spread of the virus and adhere to the measures imposed.”

He said the simple action of adhering to these measures would help protect the lives of “countless Bougainvilleans”.

  • According to the John Hopkins University covid dashboard, Papua New Guinea has 32,279 cases of infection and 415 deaths from covid-19. Health officials believe this is an under-estimate and less than 2 percent of the population are vaccinated.

Republished with permission.

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