The Pacific nation is reporting more cases in one of the world’s slowest vaccine rollouts.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says it needs concerted international action to help Papua New Guinea (PNG) cope with the record increase in COVID-19 cases that are overwhelming the country’s health system.
The latest wave of Covid-19 has seen the highest number of daily cases on PNG since the epidemic began in March 2020.
The country reported 376 new cases on Saturday and is working on about 3,000 active cases of the disease, according to the latest official data.
Uvenama Rova, secretary general of the PNG Red Cross, said hospitals were full and patients were being returned to the provincial area as well as the capital, Port Moresby.
“Emergency efforts and more assistance are needed in the healthcare sector to prevent massive deaths in the coming days and weeks,” Rova said in a statement on Monday.
“In all cases of PNG, we are deeply concerned that the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19 continues to skyrocket due to limited health infrastructure, high rates of illness, poor access to safe water, sanitation and sanitation facilities.”
The vaccine rollout of PNG has been much slower than in many other parts of the region, with only 2 percent of the country’s population receiving a vaccine, according to official data.
Official data does not detail the number of doses obtained, but Oxford University’s Our World in Data says only 0.67 percent of people have been fully vaccinated. Experts say the rollout is being hampered by misinformation, vaccine dilemmas and the supply of vaccines in the country’s hilly and remote coastal villages.
John Fleming, IFRC’s Asia-Pacific head of health, said: “If this wave of covid continues at such an alarming rate, PNG’s fragile health system is in danger of collapsing.” “Increasing emergency health care services is vital to preventing greater suffering and loss of life.”