Papua New Guineas coronavirus cases spike, health system at risk of collapsing – CNBC

Australian officials carry boxes containing some 8,000 initial doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine following their arrival on board a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft at the Port Moresby worldwide airport on March 23, 2021, as Papua New Guinea raced to stop a Covid-19 surge frustrating its fragile health system.Andrew Kutan

Getty ImagesThe coronavirus crisis that has gripped Papua New Guinea continues to get worse, as the Indo-Pacific country waits in earnest for vaccines to arrive.In just one week– between March 22 and March 28– there were 1,786 brand-new reported cases of Covid-19 and 13 deaths, according to the newest report from the World Health Organization and the PNG National Department of Health.The weekly joint report said that as of March 28, twelve noon local time, the island-nation reported 5,349 overall cases and 49 deaths.”The health system in PNG is at risk of collapsing, as health facilities managing COVID-19 are close to capacity and nearly too stretched to provide routine fundamental healthcare,” MSF said.The Pacific island state has only about 500 medical professionals, less than 4,000 nurses, and listed below 3,000 community health employees, according to data the prime minister shared last year during an address to parliament.”A large number of people also live in rural or remote neighborhoods where its hard to access the very same level of health care as those living in urban centers such as Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, she added.Shortage of equipmentAccording to the joint report from WHO and the health department, only 7,061 Covid tests were conducted between March 22 and March 28– that implies 25.29% of those tests returned positive.Large-scale screening stays low throughout most of the country and theres a scarcity of tests kits as well as logistical problems, the report kept in mind.