Papua New Guinea has reported a record number of Covid-19 cases over the weekend, as doctors warn that the hospital system is on the brink of overwhelming situation and that more people could die outside of emergency rooms.
The news came when a photograph of a woman who died outside Port Moresby General Hospital went viral on social media, sparking outrage and fears that the woman’s death was due to the hospital being overwhelmed by the Covid-19.
Papua New Guinea announced 242 new cases of Covid 19 on March 20, bringing the country’s total to 3,359 with 36 deaths. It follows a record 295 new cases on Friday, with the country reporting a seven-day average of 181 new cases per day for the week through March 20.
Covid’s impact is deeply felt in the Pacific country, which has roughly 500 doctors to serve a population of around nine million, and was already struggling to deal with outbreaks of measles, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and polio.
Port Moresby General Hospital Executive Director Dr Paki Molumi said the number of Covid-19 cases posed significant challenges. At least 120 staff members at the hospital, which serves the country’s capital, have tested positive for Covid-19 and have had to isolate themselves, most of whom work in the emergency department.
“As the number of Covid cases increases in the coming weeks, PMGH’s limited staff will not be able to serve everyone and therefore we expect more of these incidents of unexpected deaths in and out of the Emergency Department and parking lots. of the hospital. ”Molumi wrote of the widely shared photograph of the woman who died outside the hospital.
“I urge the public to view this post on [Facebook] from the actual situation at PMGH, where too much is expected of a limited and overburdened healthcare workforce. Help us help you avoid more incidents like this, ”he said.
The national controller against the pandemic, David Manning, also said that Papua New Guinea “will face difficult times” in the future.
“We went through the first wave of the virus that spread better than many other countries because the people of Papua New Guinea are a caring people and because we want to keep our communities safe. But this second wave of infections is much worse than the first and we must not lower our guard. The number of Covid-19 infections detected today has reached 3,359, which is triple the positive cases of a month ago, and we must prepare for this number to continue to increase. “
“Now is the time to remind all of our people how serious this threat is to us and to continue to take precautions to stop the spread. We must wear masks, wash our hands constantly, and maintain social distancing in all possible places.
On Friday night, Kerema MP Richard Mendani died at Pacific International Hospital in what is now one of the highest-profile Covid-19 deaths in PNG.
The chief emergency physician, Dr. Sam Yockopua, has asked the public to pay attention to the new measures and comply with them as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.
Dr. Yockopua said that the country has a very fragile healthcare system and stress is already being felt.
“We could collapse very soon if we are not careful. People, the public should pay attention to comply with simple commands to avoid being unnecessarily sick to increase stress. It’s a ticking time bomb, ”he said.
The chief emergency physician, Dr. Sam Yockopua, warned people who spread misinformation about the virus that their actions were harmful.
“I want to seriously warn the public, especially those with really big mouths and empty drums that make louder noises,” he said. “Please, at least for a moment, take some time to digest what we are saying, understand, participate and cooperate … I have noticed that the public in a knee-jerk response throws nonsensical points to the detriment of healthcare workers , doctors and scientists who are the front-line workers who serve to rescue you and me. However, he still feels qualified to comment, to the point of ridiculing his dedicated commitments.
“The days of real danger are fast approaching. When we are exhausted, we will all take our massive rest and you will be alone… It will soon happen if you do not comply with the measures implemented to protect you, ”he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism