Delta surge in PNG


Papua New Guinea is now grappling with a surge in the deadly (Covid-19 Delta variant, with cases tripling from 30 on 01 September, to 97 on Sunday.

National Pandemic Response Deputy Controller Dr Daoni Esorom said the Covid-19 death toll had also risen to 227, including 17 deaths last week 20 September to 26.

The 30 new Delta cases were reported in the National Capital District (NCD), West Sepik, Central, Morobe, Hela and Milne Bay.

“As of Monday, 67 new cases of the Delta variant have been reported.

“NCD has 23 cases of the Delta variant, with West Sepik 35, Central four, Morobe two, Hela one and Milne Bay two,” Esorom said.

“Data shows that there has been ongoing transmission from August to the early weeks of September.”

On 17 August, there was one Delta case in Central which was imported from the Philippines.

“Central also began detecting Delta cases on first and second weeks of September.

“Morobe and Milne Bay began detecting cases in the first week of September.

“NCD is experiencing a Delta surge beginning in late August into September,” Dr Esorom said.

The hotspots for the Delta variant are Alotau, Lae, NCD, Vanimo, Kairuku, Exxon plant site and Oil Search Moro.

The age groups affected is those from age 31 to 40, followed by those over 50, 41 to 50, and 19 to 30.

The data suggests an in-country Delta transmission.
Dr Esorom said 18,381 people had recovered.

“We have a very good recovery rate – around 98 per cent,” he said.

During a 24-hour period on Monday, 118 new cases were reported.

He said surges had been recorded in Western, West Sepik and Eastern Highlands, with Morobe, Western Highlands, NCD and Enga also reporting a hike in cases.

“So the situation is very fluid,” Esorom said.

“It can change within days.

“That’s what we are seeing at the moment.”

West Sepik recorded 635 cases and eight deaths, with 584 recovered and 45 in isolation.

Western on Monday diagnosed 15 new cases but no deaths.

“Western since the beginning of the outbreak recorded 3,138 cases and 20 deaths. Around 2,800 people have recovered,” he said.

Eastern Highlands recorded 43 new cases over the 24-hour period on Monday.

Meanwhile, five Covid-19 deaths were reported in Mt Hagen Hospital in the last 13 days, with 28 health staff testing positive for the virus, Western Highlands Health Authority acting chief executive officer Jane Holden says.

“The province recorded 287 cases from 17CSeptember and we believe more people had been infected and are at home.

“Another seven deaths were reported in Gia and Kiripia in Tambul-Nebliyer, near Southern Highlands’ Imbonggu,” she added.

Holden said the number of new infections would rise if more people volunteered to be tested for the Covid-19.

She said the seven deaths occurred after the victims reported short illness with shortness of breath.

“More positive cases are coming from Gia and Kiripia areas at the moment,” she added.

Holden said many Covid-19 infected people could be living in communities and only testing would verify for treatment and isolation at an early stage.

“The isolation unit is also full with 11 patients waiting for admission.

“The management is trying to open another 12 beds yesterday and hopefully 20 by today.

“However, once we have those full, we will have no further capacity because we believe many more could turn up.

“We want people to come forward for testing so that they can be treated and isolated if positive,” she added.

Holden said people’s behaviour needed to change because if they refused to come for testing, they were putting the lives of others at risk. “Only a few people are getting the vaccine.

“We want to see a massive increase in number of people getting the vaccine but it is not happening.

“Vaccine is free but they seem to have the couldn’t-care-or-less mentality because of misinformation.

“People need to change their attitude and adhere to the new normal protocol.

“We are sensing danger and the public must turn up at the hospital to be tested or vaccinated,” she pleaded.

In another development, a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths in Eastern Highlands has prompted a large number of people to turn up for vaccination at the Goroka Provincial Hospital.

Covid-19 vaccination assistant staffer at the centre Jeffery Majike said since the hike early this month, many people were coming in for jabs.

He said those people had not been serious about getting vaccinated, but since the surge from 03 September, there seemed to be a change of mind.

“On Monday and Tuesday, 168 people came to get their jabs.

“We anticipate that more people will be coming before the end of the week,” Majike said.

He said individuals, families, partners, groups, businesses and organisations were turning up each day for jabs.

While numbers were not available immediately, Majike said “quite a number of them” had been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Eastern Highlands Health Authority (EHPHA) chief executive officer Dr Joseph Apa said there was no other effective way of preventing infection apart from vaccination.

He said the health message was for people to practise the new normal.

“I am glad to see more people getting vaccination. It is good because this will eventually kill the virus and make Eastern Highlands Covid-19-free,” Dr Apa said.