Papua New Guinea’s COVID-19 cases.

Papua New Guinea’s COVID-19 cases. Sourced from Loop PNG

On Monday evening, the National Pandemic Controller issued the latest data, which brings the total to 111. It was reported that the new case is a 27-year-old male employed at the National Department of Health, in the nation’s capital. He is now in isolation at the Rita Flynn temporary facility.

The statement indicated that the young man was tested during a targeted testing of the health staff following the confirmation of seven staff with COVID-19 at the department. Contract tracing for the health staff in the nation’s capital continues.

Over the past 48 hours more than 1,906 tests have been conducted. This includes testing of staff of the National Control Centre, the National Department of Health as well as inpatients and staff at the Port Moresby General Hospital.

A spokesperson said, “What you are doing is essential to limit any potential spread of COVID-19. Getting tested helps us find any cases in the community as quickly as possible. This ensures we are doing everything we can to manage the pandemic.”

“… there are testing facilities right across the city and swabbing has started at the Lawes Road, Gordons, Pari and Tokara clinics. It’s really important if you’re showing any symptoms at all, please go get tested.”

Meanwhile contact tracing for the two cases in Lae continues, with results for the 74 contacts of the second Lae case to be made available today. The third case identified on Sunday August 2nd; the patient is in isolation at the 11 Mile Isolation Centre.

A team of Australian health workers has flown to Papua New Guinea to help with coronavirus infections, after a recent spike in the capital of Port Moresby. For months, Papua New Guinea has avoided a large-scale coronavirus outbreak, but in the space of two weeks things have changed.

Up to mid-July, only 11 cases had been recorded in the country. Then on July 16, a new case was discovered. This was a lab technician — who had reported a fever, muscle aches, a cough and runny nose. They’d been working at a COVID-19 testing lab.

It prompted 37 staff at the lab to get tested. That was when three more cases were announced. All the new cases were staff of the Central Public Health Laboratory. The lab is located in the country’s biggest hospital, Port Moresby General.

In the days that followed, more cases were discovered at the hospital and in the health department staff. It has put health officials in a tough position, being at the epicentre of the country’s most significant outbreak just as the significantly under-resourced system prepares to handle escalating coronavirus cases.

As the initial cases were identified, “chaos” was reported at the Port Moresby General Hospital, with patients suffering other illnesses being turned away.

In the aftermath of the outbreak, some nurses at the hospital have raised concerns about a shortage of PPE, with some being asked to reuse their masks. However, a hospital spokesperson said they had enough PPE in stock and it is made available all the time.

The World Health Organisation will be involved in monitoring and evaluating infection control measures at the hospital to allow improvements. Precautions have also been taken. The hospital went into “emergency mode,” after the initial cases were identified having to scale down services while it cleaned.

Improving infection control and protecting other critical services, like emergency surgery, in the country’s biggest referral hospital. A large tent has been set up outside in the car park to triage patients, so that people with possible symptoms can be sent to an isolation facility that has been set up at the Rita Flynn sports stadium.


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