Covid-19: East Timorese President says extending state of emergency was essential
The Timorese President said today that it was essential to expand the state of emergency to continue to control the risks of contagion from covid-19 and thus allow the Government to prepare its response system.
In a message to the country, Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo, recognized, however, that the state of emergency is having a great impact on the national economy and that, therefore, it is essential that the Government supports workers, companies and the most vulnerable.
“We need to have the courage to declare a state of emergency because we want to save the people who are the greatest wealth that exists. We can recover other riches, but human life cannot be recovered, ”said Lu-Olo.
The declaration by the head of state comes a day after decreeing the extension of the state of emergency for another 30 days, until May 27, a measure requested by the government and authorized by parliament.
Considering that “it is not easy” to declare a state of emergency, because it suspends several rights, freedoms and guarantees, Lu-Olo said that “the right to life is the most important” and that the State “has a duty to protect” population.
The head of state recalls that the measures implemented, such as the closing of borders and the obligation of people to be quarantined when they entered the country, helped to detect the cases.
Still, he said that the lack of conditions in the quarantine sites or the behavior of some of the people in the quarantine led to possible contagion in those sites and that it is not known whether there are more people or not in the community.
“Because we do not have mass tests yet, it is difficult to know exactly how many people are already infected with the corona virus,” he said.
“We need to think carefully and respond quickly to the risk of transmission in the community. If it happens, prevention and control measures must be rigorous to save our people and the foreign citizens who work in our country, ”he said.
Lu-Olo says that it is vital to study the experiences of other countries, especially in the region, to “not make the same mistakes”, referring that some nations thought they were already free of the disease, but the cases increased again.
“We cannot reduce prevention and control measures. Because covid-19 is still in the world and positive cases continue to increase, including in neighboring Indonesia, and because there is a possibility of transmission in Liquica and Dili, ”he said.
“If we find any positives, we have to test the whole community and take more stringent measures such as sanitary fences. We need to increase the state of emergency another month for the Government and relevant entities if they can prepare better, ”he said.
Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo considers that it is especially difficult to declare a state of emergency because this measure “affects families and their livelihood a lot, especially those who receive income from small businesses”.
Entrepreneurs are affected, they are unable to pay wages, unemployment increases, there is less investment and the “national economy is affected”, he stressed.
In the case of Timor-Leste and, unlike other countries, the option was not to use the ‘lock-down’ but for less restrictive measures, which can be revised “depending on the evolution of the disease in the country”.
Lu-Olo welcomed the community’s efforts to help those most in need, thanked frontline officials in the fight against covid-19 and the support of several international partners.
He also sent messages of solidarity to those who are quarantined and, particularly, to the positive cases that are in isolation.
Timor-Leste currently has 22 active cases of covid-19.
Globally, according to a report by the AFP news agency, the covid-19 pandemic has already claimed more than 210,000 deaths and infected more than three million people in 193 countries and territories.
More than 818,000 patients were considered cured.