All deaths in PNG unvaccinated: Health Minister Wong

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The 252 people reported to have died of the Covid-19 around the country were all unvaccinated, according to Papua New Guinea Health and HIV/Aids Minister Jelta Wong.

He added that 99 percent of Covid-19 patients in hospitals around the country were also unvaccinated.

He told Parliament that “100 percent of the patients are in critical care and requiring oxygen”.

“Official cumulative numbers of those affected by the Covid-19 stand at 23,365, with 252 lives lost,” he said.

“But the official figures are nowhere near the actual numbers in the provinces.

“Just like other developing countries which have (gone through) a third wave of the Covid-19 Delta variant surge, the undeclared number of infections and deaths is much higher.”

Wong said some had died in villages.

“It is unlikely that the cause of their deaths will be known and will not be recorded,” he said.

He said the healthcare system had been underfunded for decades and Papua New Guinea was still a developing country “facing the challenges of data collation”.

Wong pointed out that the increasing number of sick or dead people now was motivating many to get vaccinated.

“Demand is rising considerably.

“So much so that while a few months ago we had vaccines expiring, now the government (wants) to bring new doses before the end of the year.

“There is a significant amount of personal protective equipment distributed to the provinces.

“But the lack of visibility on usage and remaining stockpiles is proving a challenge and better data and feedback systems are being developed.

“It includes the Health Department building a dashboard to better monitor this data.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has developed guidelines on the Covid-19 therapeutics which is regularly updated, he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister James Marape has assured those still hesitant about being vaccinated that there is nothing sinister or “underworld” about the vaccines.

“The Coronavirus (Covid-19) is real,” he said.

“There is no other belief that comes with taking the vaccine.

“There is no underworld attached with vaccination.”

Marape told Parliament that the Government would not “encroach on the personal spaces of individuals” to get them vaccinated.

“(But) if you do not want to get vaccinated, stay at home,” he said.

Marape told Parliament that the Government was considering whether a nationwide isolation strategy should be implemented to address the surge in the Covid-19 cases.

He was replying to Abau MP Sir Puka Temu who queried about health services in Central.

Marape reiterated his plea to everyone to roll up their sleeves and get the jab.

He also advised the Port Moresby General Hospital and the Gerehu Hospital to stop turning away patients from outside the capital city.

“We are the same people from the same country and we must co-exist,” he said.

“It is only a boundary separating us.

“Let us make sure we co-exist.

“This is the Covid-19 time and we need to care for (each other) and not turn away people from another province.

“Whether they come from Gulf or Central, Pom Gen is a national referral hospital.

“It should be embracing all people,” PM Marape said

Western Highlands Governor Paias Wingti, said the country is “sitting on a time bomb”, which requires leaders to spread a “unified” message on Covid-19 vaccination.

“Churches, leaders in communities and organisations must tell the truth and tell those closest and dearest to them to take the vaccination,” the former prime minister told Parliament.

“Leadership is important.

“The actions of a leader determine what society sees.

“If the actions of the leader are contrary, and they don’t do the right thing, society follows them.”

During a fiery debate in Parliament, Wingti reminded MPs to set the example by taking the vaccine themselves first.

“We have never been serious (about the Covid-19).

“Six months ago, no one took the topic seriously.

“I am glad the Prime Minister (James Marape) took the lead (on the) vaccination,” he said.

“Then we saw church leaders, leaders and others follow suit.”

He advised MPs to think wisely and stop asking the PM for money “because there is no money in the country”.

“Money will not fix the problem.

“The problem will be fixed by the change in mindset and attitude,” he said.

“Nothing else will change the way the Covid-19 is being spread.

“We need to change from the top,” he said.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS