Do your part to curb Covid-19


THE surge in coronavirus cases in Papua New Guinea is putting pressure on the already vulnerable health system.
Issues ranging from lack of hospital beds, personal protective equipment to shortage of manpower have all popped up.
With the surge, the emergency departments are not able to isolate patients who may have Covid-19 or other infections from those with other emergent problems mostly because of space and manpower.
Covid-19 patients are supposed to be isolated from the general patients to ensure infections are not spread from person to person.
Covid-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
Symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, lack of appetite, loss of taste or smell, and diarrhoea.
Most people who develop Covid-19 have mild symptoms that can (and should) be managed at home.
However, some people with Covid-19 develop serious illness and require hospital care.
Sadly, the largest hospital in the country, Port Moresby General Hospital, has only eight beds at the intensive care unit (ICU ) beds which were all occupied by two Covid-19 patients and six other patients.
There is a need for more ICU beds and Covid-19 isolation centres to care for serious Covid-19 patients.
“We don’t have enough hospital beds and our ICU capacity is very weak,” Prime Minister James Marape said
He highlighted the weak capacity of the ICU in the Covid-19 response because according to Health Department chief anaesthetist and International SOS vaccination programme clinical lead Dr Duncan Dobunaba, ICU beds with ventilators were necessary for critically ill Covid-19 patients.
Dr Dobunaba said there were one or two ventilators which accompany ICU beds in every provinces but some may not be in use due to lack of expertise and other reasons.
Port Moresby General Hospital chief executive Dr Paki Molumi said the hospital had 20 ventilators but the infrastructure could accommodate only 8.
“We hope to expand the current ICU and high dependency unit to a 20 bed ICU with Covid-19 funds.”
The Covid-19 isolation unit can hold 18 patients, the Rita Flynn Complex can take up 43 patients and the recently-opened Florence Nightingale Field Hospital at the Taurama Aquatic Centre has 276 beds.
PNG’s tally is itching towards the 10,000 mark with deaths nearing 100.
Experts worry that the numbers are just the tip of the iceberg because PNG has the sixth-lowest Covid-19 testing rate in the world.
Statistics from the World Health Organisation show that only 5,240 per million people in the country have been tested, compared with 41,303 per million in neighbouring Indonesia and 575,063 per million in Australia.
For a long time, the pandemic wasn’t bad in PNG and the Government, with its concerned authorities, got quite slack with enforcing the “Niupela Pasin” protocols. But it seems, the people 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 and that vaccines are no good.
Last week, PNG received 132,000 doses of the Astra-Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine thanks to Gavi, the international vaccine alliance.
Unfortunately, misinformation spread via social media and word of mouth has led many Papua New Guineans to believe things that are untrue about the vaccines and many people have said they won’t get vaccinated.
This pandemic will not end until it ends worldwide.
We must all do our part to stop it.
That means getting vaccinated and reducing the rate of transmission.