Deaths rising

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Patients sitting near a ward inside the Port Moresby General Hospital on Friday. Port Moresby General Hospital chief executive officer Dr Paki Molumi said the hospital is experiencing a strain on its workforce due to 89 staff testing positive for the Covid-19. – Nationalpic by JOEL HAMARI

THE Coronavirus (Covid-19) death toll continues to rise around the country, with the biggest hospital recording 35 in three weeks, officials say.
Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) chief executive officer Dr Paki Molumi said the deaths at the hospital were from Sept 27 in the Covid-19 wards and in the emergency department.
At the Mt Hagen Hospital, the 30 people who had died since Sept 17 were not vaccinated, says Western Highlands health authority chief executive officer Jane Holden.
In Eastern Highlands, provincial health authority chief executive officer Dr Joseph Apa said people were “dying here and there like flies”.
The PMGH is planning to open up services after scaling them down two weeks ago.
Dr Molumi said of the 35 deaths, 99 per cent were not vaccinated.
Since Sept 27 when the surge began, the positivity rate rose from 35 per cent to 89 per cent.
“This means there is an increasing number of cases coming to our emergency department that reflects more community transmission,” he said.
“We are experiencing a huge surge in Covid-19 which is worse than the last two surges.
“The Austmat tent outside the car park, emergency department, 19- bed isolation ward are all full.”
The hospital has opened another 52-bed Covid-19 ward which currently has 49 patients.
“Every day the numbers are increasing and is filling up the wards.
“So we are trying to improve the capacity at the Taurama Aquatic Centre (Nightingale Covid-19 centre) so that we can offload some patients there.
“TAC has 30 beds but now has 35 patients already. The Tairama centre can accommodate 150 to 200 patients.
“So next week, the capacity should increase so that it can hold 60 or 90 patients,” Molumi said.
“We are struggling to get the capacity at TAC up and running so we can offload some of these patients so that PMGH will return to normal.” Dr Molumi added that the hospital was experiencing a strain on its workforce after 89 staff members tested positive for the Covid-19 and were on sick leave to allow home isolation.