27 Mar 2020

PNG govt seeks to protect health system

11:31 am on 27 March 2020

Papua New Guinea's government says it's taking steps to protect the country's health system from being undermined by covid-19.

In recent days nurses at Port Moresby General Hospital raised concerns about a lack of personal protection equipment for front-line health personnel.

Bryan Kramer.

Bryan Kramer. Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

The police minister, Bryan Kramer, one of the leading officials in country's national covid task force, said 50,000 sets of the equipment arrived in port on Wednesday and were received by the Department of Health.

He said health workers are also concerned about proper training for those who come into contact with a covid-19 case.

"So the protocols in place are that no one with covid-19 or who has symptoms of covid-19 is to be allowed into our health system," Mr Kramer said.

"Our health system has no ability to manage, receive, quarantine or isolate or treat anyone with covid-19."

Mr Kramer said isolation facilities were being established where covid cases would be taken to.

One such facility is at the Rita Flyn Netball Courts in Port Moresby, while another is the Australian-built, former refugee transit compound at Bomana in Port Moresby.

Mr Kramer said the latter facility had been inspected by the government and the World Health Organisation, and that Australia's government has given approval for it to be used to house and treat coronavirus cases.

Health department officials, with technical advice by WHO, would be running the facility.

PNG has only confirmed one case of covid-19 in the country to date, a 45-year old mine worker who had returned to Morobe province after travelling from Europe, but was soon isolated and has since been transferred home to Australia.

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