Mass burial approved in PNG


Papua New Guinea Pandemic Response Controller David Manning has authorised the mass burial of 200 bodies in the Port Moresby General Hospital mortuary.

The mortuary is now filled beyond capacity with more than 300 bodies stacked on top of one another, as more Coronavirus (Covid-19) bodies continue to be brought in from the hospital wards and homes.

Hospital chief executive officer Dr Paki Molumi said the city manager Bernard Kipit had assured his office of their assistance.

“Normally we bury 60 bodies and that would cost about K30,000 (US$8,550),” he said. “This time, it will cost us between K90,000 (US$25,650) and K100,000 (US$28,500).

“We will be releasing the list today via advertisements with the newspapers and relatives have 72 hours to claim the bodies.

“The burial is scheduled for Thursday or Friday.”

Hospital medical services director Dr Kone Sobi said on Wednesday that the hospital conducted four mass burials a year at a cost of about K90,000, US$25,650) with each burial costing between K25,000 (US$7,125) and K35,000 (US$9,975) depending on the number of bodies.

Sobi said the main mortuary building was sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency about 30 years ago to cater for 60 bodies.

National Capital District (NCD) Governor Powes Parkop said the mortuary was simply full with more than 300 bodies.

“Three more (freezer) containers have been installed to store the bodies and a mass burial is being planned this week,” he added.

“People are dying on arrival (at the hospital) and those who died despite being under the care of the hospital’s isolation centre.”

Kipit said the city commission would help the hospital in ensuring that the logistical support was there when a mass burial was carried out.

“We will also step in to ensure space was given for the burial.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister James Marape has warned provincial health authorities (PHAs) to buck up in the fight against (Covid-19 or they will be replaced.

“Papua New Guinea is now a red zone with many lives lost,” Marape said.

In another development, an emergency medical team from the United Kingdom arrived in the country on Sunday to help in the COVID-19 pandemic response as requested by the PNG Government.

The team comprises 10 members with six arriving Sunday while the other four will be arriving during the week.

The team were debriefed by the National Control Centre EMT lead Dr Gary Nou and his deputy Dr Kapua Kapua at the National Control Centre, Morauta Haus, Port Moresby.

The team will be deployed towards end of this week.

Dr Nou thanked the team for coming, saying the shortage of manpower in the health facilities was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, there are two provinces being considered where the UK EMT team may be sent to, but the final decision has yet to be made.

The UK EMT consists of Intensive Care Unit specialists, Emergency Department specialists, paramedics and nurses.

The UK EMT was brought into the country by the UK government in response to the PNG government’s request with no financial support from the PNG government.