The PNG Civil Identity and Registry (PNGCIR) NID Operations in Lae will be temporarily closed for an indefinite period due to Coronavirus alerts, as per directives from Planning Minister Sam Basil.
The operations came to a halt on Thursday following word of the suspected COVID-19 case in the province.
Planning Minister Sam Basil said this action was taken to allow the management to put standard operating procedures in place, raise awareness, and to prepare staff.
“In accordance to the government’s response to the COVID-19 that has been of great concern to us in PNG, the PNG Civil Registry and Identity office in Lae and of course in other provinces very soon will come to a halt temporarily.”
PNGCIR, Registrar General Noel Mobiha said NID staff nationwide serve up to 5, 000 clients daily, and the chances of them being exposed to the Coronavirus is high if there is an outbreak.
Mobile registration teams in the province are also being recalled to Lae during this period.
“We need to take precaution especially here in Lae and so our immediate response and being directed by the minister is to move them immediately all back to Lae and start coming down here. Bring a medical doctor with us which we did yesterday… to educate the staff on what the issues are, symptoms that would come up, and what precautions we should take should a member of our staff get ill.”
The NID office in Lae currently has a backlog of over one hundred thousand NID registrations, pending data entry.
Whilst registrations and front desk operations are put on hold, staff will continue working to reduce the backlog of registrations.
“In that period we will expect the team to upload more than a hundred thousand NID’s applications from Morobe,” says Basil.
“If we do it properly…then we expect to do roughly about thirty thousand registrations a month, and that would sort of ease down the Morobe data waiting to be uploaded” added Mobiha.
The NID office will remain closed until further notice.