Saturday, November 27

‘Crisis unfolding’ as Papua New Guinea hospitals hit by worst Covid wave yet | Papua New Guinea


HPapua New Guinea’s hospitals are on the brink and morgues are overflowing as the country suffers from what health authorities say is the worst increase in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began.

The country’s healthcare system has long been plagued by shortages of medicines, funds, a deteriorating infrastructure, and a severe lack of healthcare workers.

Now Papua New Guinea’s major hospitals have been forced to cut vital medical services, while at least one says it could be forced to close altogether.

As of Wednesday, the country has recorded a total of 21,896 Covid cases and 243 deaths during the course of the pandemic, according to the National Department of Health. the latest available breakdown shows an increase in cases, rising to 600 in the week beginning September 20 from 255 four weeks earlier. Deaths increased from two to 17. However, these figures may not reflect the severity of the outbreak due to the country’s low testing rate.

In Lae, the country’s second-largest city, Angau General Hospital is admitting an average of five new cases a day and recorded 19 deaths in September alone. The only public hospital in the city, serving a population of 76,255, has only 320 beds and 150 more temporary beds.

Health authorities have been forced to convert the city’s stadium into a makeshift hospital and morgue.

“There are currently seventeen patients admitted to the stadium. The hospital management has decided to convert the new drug-resistant tuberculosis ward into a Covid ward, as the stadium is not set up correctly, ”said Dr. Alex Peawi, head of the hospital’s emergency department.

“The emergency department only handles life-threatening emergencies, while all other cases are referred to local clinics. People traveling from Goroka [the capital of the neighbouring Eastern Highlands Province] they are a big concern as people are not looking at new normal measurements. We are advising people to get vaccinated ”.

In the Eastern Highlands, Covid-19 cases have reportedly overwhelmed the Goroka Provincial Hospital and a doctor working there tweeted that it was a “crisis unfolding before our eyes.”

Dr. Kapiro Kendaura, director of curative health services for the province, described the situation as critical and cases are increasing every day. “Our Covid center is always full,” he said. “Our emergency department is always full of Covid patients. We have a labor shortage, with over 30 employees at Covid. We have a great need for oxygen, among other things. “

Last week, a series of measures were put in place in the province to manage the increase, including a curfew, a ban on gatherings of more than 20 people, the closure of major markets and markets for the betel nut. .

In the Western Highlands province, the most densely populated region in the country, Mount Hagen General Hospital is also on the brink of closure due to an influx of Covid-19 cases and an acute shortage of government funding, the Informed Post Courier In the past week.

Only five of the hospital’s 20 isolation beds were still available, while two people died last week and two more were seriously ill.

According to the provincial health authority, the hospital will be forced to close before Christmas if funding is further delayed. The hospital is the only public hospital in Mount Hagen and serves a population of 46,256.

“We only have enough Covid-19 funding to support another two weeks’ work despite submitting a request in late June to the Department of Health. This [shutting down of services] It will begin next week with the closing of the consultation clinics for any new patients and the discharge of others for a couple of weeks, ”Jane Holden, interim CEO, told The Courier.

In Oro province, a 45-minute flight from the capital Port Moresby, Popondetta general hospital staff have been forced to use ice packs in the morgue to help keep the freezer running. Talking to EMTVOro Governor Gary Juffa admitted the morgue’s condition was “deplorable.”

“We have a shortage of space. We face serious problems with the morgue and its capacity. “

Meanwhile, the country’s main referral hospital, Port Moresby General, announced this week that it would reduce its services due to the increase in Covid patients. According to the hospital, it currently has 50 patients hospitalized for Covid and the number is expected to increase in the coming weeks.

Surgeries are on hold indefinitely, consultation clinics are closed until further notice, and pathology services, the tuberculosis clinic, emergency and radiology departments and all other essential services will also be affected.

Health authorities have urged people to get vaccinated, yet vaccination figures remain extremely low and hesitation is high due to misinformation. To date, 130,262 people have been vaccinated, a mere 1.3% of the country’s population.


www.theguardian.com

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