By LULU MARK
PORT Moresby may need to expand its Covid-19 isolation facilities quickly and effectively in case a big spike in cases occurs, a doctor says.
Rita Flynn isolation facility manager Dr Gary Nou said it would be a disaster if the spread of Covid-19 in the capital city continued to increase “exponentially”.
He said the Rita Flynn facility had 50 beds and 38 patient as of Wednesday. The facility can accommodate 76 beds, and possibly stretched to 100 if need be. But it cannot exceed 100.
The number of cases in Port Moresby reached 139 on Wednesday, with the number of active cases well above 50.
Nou said one of the biggest problems they faced at Rita Flynn was sanitation.
They have only four toilets for men and four for women.
He said if worse came to worse, they might have to isolate up to 100 people there at any one time.
The option they have is using the Taurama Aquatic Indoor Centre and hospitals as isolation centers.
“If we don’t isolate (positive cases), we are letting the infection spread in the community,” Nou said.
One plan is to have mild cases isolated in a bigger facility, moderate cases isolated at Rita Flynn, and the critically sick isolated at the Port Moresby General Hospital or an intensive care unit facility.
The trend globally is that 85 per cent of the cases are mild and asymptomatic, and 15 per cent require some form of medical care, with 5 per cent of those requiring critical to high dependency care.
“Say we have 1,000 positive case, 15 per cent of that (150) will need oxygen or some kind of therapy or care, and 5 per cent of that will need to go to the Port Moresby General Hospital,” he said.
“Even 1,000 cases is too much.
“That’s why we keep telling people to flatten the curve by washing hands, wearing mask and maintain social distancing.
“It is about slowing the spread so that we don’t have the hospitals overwhelmed. We can manage slowly.
“We need to slow down the spread so that not many people will go to the hospital at the same time.”
He also pointed out that there were also non-coronavirus patients to think about who need special care.
“If the Intensive Care Unit is full of Covid-19 patients, a snakebite patient who also needs ventilation may die because all the ventilators are taken up,” he said.
Meanwhile, acting Health Secretary Dr Paison Dakulala said the surge in cases in Port Moresby, Morobe and other centres was worrying.
He said the capacity of the Rita Flynn facility could be expended but the problem was the lack of sanitation.
Dakulala said work led by the NCD Health Authority to establish swabbing and testing sites in the city was continuing.
By LULU MARK