Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape has declared a national state of emergency and warned the public to prepare for a two-week national lockdown starting tomorrow.

The prime minister made the announcement in a public address last night after a national emergency meeting in the capital Port Moresby to discuss the country’s Covid-19 response strategy.

Mr Marape’s declaration comes after health authorities in the country confirmed the first case of the Covid-19 coronavirus on Friday.

“We have now declared a nationwide state of emergency. I request with this announcement here that our nation gives greater support to this call,” he said.

“This call is not to make anyone panic as we speak there is only one pronounced candidate [with Covid-19] and by the grace of God there is no indicating evidence of the expansion of this virus as yet.”

Mr Marape said as part of the state of emergency all domestic flights in the country would be grounded from tomorrow and all public transportation on the country’s roads are asked to cease operations.

All schools in the country are also being closed.

“Starting Tuesday 24th of March this country will come to a lockdown for a period of 14 days,” he said.

“This step is absolutely necessary for us to make sure that every citizen remains where they are. I do not intend to raise hype and tension and panic. It is just about you staying at home so we can take stock,” he said.

Mr Marape said more meetings would be held today to further define the national Covid-19 response strategy before more announcements are made about expectations for public behaviour during the lockdown.

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