Home » Hospital beds operating out in Papua New Guinea as COVID-19 surges | Coronavirus pandemic News

Hospital beds operating out in Papua New Guinea as COVID-19 surges | Coronavirus pandemic News

by newsking24

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is going through an exponential improve within the unfold of COVID-19, with country-wide studies of neighborhood transmission and enormous numbers of hospital staff and sufferers being recognized with the virus.

PNG’s Joint Agency Task Force reported 1,741 instances and 21 deaths as of March 9 – practically double the variety of instances reported one month earlier and greater than double the deaths reported two weeks earlier.

Experts fear the numbers are simply the tip of the iceberg as a result of PNG has the sixth-lowest COVID-19 testing charge on the earth. Only 5,240 per million folks within the nation have been examined in contrast with 41,303 per million in neighbouring Indonesia and 575,063 per million in Australia.

The Pacific nation’s capital Port Moresby is on the epicentre of the outbreak, the place already severely under-resourced hospitals are being overwhelmed by sufferers with signs of the sickness.

“To say the health system is under strain is an understatement,” Matt Cannon, the CEO of St John Ambulance PNG, instructed Al Jazeera. “Hospitals are going through a major lack of ability to manage not solely with COVID-19 sufferers however with all different well being situations folks search assist for.

“At Port Moresby General there are only six intensive care beds and no isolation ward so the emergency ward is almost full with moderate to severe cases of COVID-19. Some patients are lying on the floor because they can’t get beds and that poses a real threat to St John’s Ambulance staff,” Cannon mentioned.

“What is also concerning is the number of hospital staff infected. I’ve heard up to 70 now have COVID-19, which represents a significant percentage of the hospital’s workforce.”

Newly constructed residence blocks are seen behind the stilt home village known as Hanuabada, positioned in Port Moresby Harbour, Papua New Guinea, November 19, 2018. [File: David Gray/Reuters]

Cannon says the pandemic was being exacerbated by conspiracy theories that together with a perception in sorcery and different superstitions are a truth of life in PNG.

“There was a theory going around that Melanesians are immune to COVID-19 but that is rapidly losing traction because many of the disbelievers have caught the virus,” he mentioned. “One of the things we are still struggling with is convincing people who are sick to self-isolate. We have limited information on how many cases there are in the community. But it is clear to us that there is a segment of the population who are showing symptoms and are refusing to stay at home.”

Virus scepticism

Gary Juffa, governor of Oro Province, says some officers are encouraging disbelief in COVID-19.

“The majority of parliamentarians are taking the pandemic seriously and I know the prime minister is very concerned,” he mentioned. “But I can tell you from my observations that the general population don’t think it’s real and one of the reasons for that is there are people in positions of responsibility who are going around saying the virus is not real, that vaccines are no good.”

He provides: “I’ve had COVID and I lost three friends to COVID. They were educated people who were reasonably well-off with access to health care. They tested positive and did nothing about it and now they’re all dead.”

Port Moresby is the  locus of the outbreak within the PNG. The PNG capital has widespread poverty and restricted hospital services [File: Mick Tsikas/EPA]

The supply of PNG’s second wave has not been recognized, though some consider it may have come throughout the border from neighbouring West Papua, a province of Indonesia, the nation battling the Asia Pacific’s largest coronavirus outbreak.

“Our manager at Lake Murray Lodge has been working with the medical officer to create awareness about COVID-19,” mentioned Bob Bates, CEO of Trans Niugini Tours, a tour firm working in Western Province, a distant a part of the nation that shares a porous and unmarked border with West Papua. “But from what I’ve heard all the cases there relate to the fly-in, fly-out people from the Ok Tedi mine.”

Cairns Hospital, one of many largest healthcare services in northern Australia, declared a “code yellow” emergency this week following the arrival of six travellers who had been in quarantine after flying in from the Ok Tedi gold mine and have been confirmed to have the coronavirus.

“There has always been a fear about a spread from Western Province, but the number of cases there are small and associated with Ok Tedi,” mentioned Stephen Howes, a professor of economics on the Australian National University and an knowledgeable on PNG.

“It’s more likely that the source of this second wave are international visitors. You see, for a long time the pandemic wasn’t bad in PNG and the government got quite slack with quarantine. Arriving passengers were told to quarantine at a list of specific hotels but no one checked they were actually going there. Now the entire country is paying the price.”

The rejection of COVID-19 security protocols really helpful by the federal government and the World Health Organization (WHO) can be considered contributing to the unfold of the second wave in PNG.

“Last year during the lockdown the main market closed for a month,” mentioned Peter Boyd, a New Zealand nationwide dwelling in Lae, PNG’s second-largest metropolis. “But now there are 5,000 people outside the market every morning with no masks or social distancing and that place is a breeding ground for disease. I think the politicians here are more worried about people losing money even though Lae’s about to explode with COVID-19.”

Funeral crowds

WHO has additionally raised issues {that a} funeral for PNG’s first chief, Prime Minister Michael Somare, because of happen this weekend within the northern coast metropolis of Wewak, will change into a super-spreader occasion.

Thousands lined as much as pay their respects for Papua New Guinea’s first chief, Prime Minister Michael Somare, who died final month. The WHO has expressed concern about giant crowds gathering for his funeral this weekend [File: Andrew Kutan/AFP]

“Maintaining the six healthy behaviours during the whole mourning period and beyond will be important to prevent transmission. To protect themselves and others, it is important for mourners to remember physical distancing, wear a mask and avoid crowds,” Dr Luo Dapeng, the WHO’s consultant in Papua New Guinea, mentioned in a press release.

“In Oro Province, we are taking very stringent measures and planning a massive awareness campaign to stop crowds from gathering,” Governor Juffa instructed Al Jazeera. “But 100,000 are going to Wewak for the funeral and they’re all totally oblivious to what I would say is a ticking time bomb. All the doctors there are saying they are going to have a serious problem with an outbreak. I personally feel a lot more needs to be done to stop so many people from gathering. It’s really quite frightening.”

PNG is a part of COVAX, the worldwide vaccine entry initiative, which can distribute the AstraZeneca vaccine within the nation. But the primary cargo of 270,000 doses donated by Australia and India will not be scheduled to reach till April. The St John’s Ambulance chief Cannon says that might be too little, too late.

“To say we are now at the tipping point is incorrect,” he says. “We were at the tipping point three weeks ago, and that is something that should be of great concern to the region.”

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