/ 24 March 2021

COVID-19 cases triple in PNG

After Papua New Guinea’s PM James Marape rang alarm bells last week, the country’s major hospital yesterday reported that 7 out of every 10 symptomatic patients they’re testing have the coronavirus. PNG reported 242 new cases on Saturday following a record of 295 cases on Friday – a steep increase on previous results. It brings PNG’s pandemic total to 3,359 cases and 36 deaths. That might not sound like a lot, but there have been low testing rates – like 2,000 tests a week across its population of 9 million people kinda low. And officials are worried that the health system is on the verge of collapse with a wave of new cases expected. Help from Australia arrived yesterday in the form of medical equipment, advisers and 8,000 vaccinations, with health workers the priority. That’s a start, Jonathan Pryke from the Lowy Institute says. “We don’t want this to be a sense of we’ve announced the response, then we’re done with it,” he said.

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