The pandemic has pushed the nation’s health system to the limit, with hospitals turning their backs on patients due to a lack of medical staff.
The WHO has expressed concern about the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Papua New Guinea warning that the outbreak is already at a critical stage and could cause a much larger outbreak.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom, speaking at a virtual press conference, said Friday that although the number is relatively small in PNG, the speed of the outbreak is worrying.
“The increase is very clear and WHO is very concerned about the possibility of a much larger outbreak,” Adhanom told media.
With 132,000 AstraZeneca vaccines arriving in the country earlier this week from the COVAX program, spurring 8,000 doses already sent by Australia, there is a critical need to be sent more to the tiny Pacific nation.
“Papa New Guinea is a perfect example of why vaccine equity is so important.”
Throughout 2020, the impoverished country with more than eight million people recorded just 900 cases, but by Thursday its total had risen to more than 9,300 with 82 deaths.
But there are concerns that the true size of the outbreak is much larger due to the low rates of testing.
Papua New Guinea Health Minister Jelta Wong said the number of health workers infected with the virus continued to increase.
Vaccination efforts have focused on frontline workers in the capital, Port Moresby, with 1,600 people so far vaccinated.
The batch will start rolling out nationwide in May, Wong said.
“A total of 588,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine will be made available to Papua New Guineans; We hope to get all of this in June. ”
The boom pushed the country’s health system to the limit, with hospitals rejecting patients due to a lack of medical staff and a temporary field hospital set up in a sports stadium. .
Health experts from Australia, the US and Germany are currently working in the country to help curb the spread, according to the response of medical experts.
Wong once again marked the misinformation about vaccines as a major threat to implementation but he said he was encouraged that more people from the coming provinces in recent days would like to be vaccinated.
“It won’t be easy but that’s what we will have to do to ensure a safer Papua New Guinea.”