PNG health official fears covid spike for Somare state funeral

East Sepik clinic patient
Godfried Boda (green shirt) holds his nine-year-old son Ephraim as East Sepik Provincial Hospital nurse Aidah Masin and Sister Raylynne Wohuinen attend to him. The boy was brought in as a person of interest at the covid-19 clinic on Tuesday. Image: Gynnie Kero/The National

Asia Pacific Report news desk

East Sepik, preparing for the state funeral of Papua New Guinea’s Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, could expect a surge in covid-19 cases as thousands flock into the province in coming days, an official says.

East Sepik Health Authority chief executive officer Mark Mauludu said this was most likely to happen because people continued to breach the covid-19 protocols and public health safety measures repeated so many times, reports The National.

“We are conscious of the many people who will travel into the province.

“We cannot control the movement of people,” he said.

“There is a possibility of cross-infection among the people and we expect a rise in [covid-19] cases in the province.

“Right now we don’t have proper quarantine and isolation facilities.

“The isolation ward we have in the hospital can cater for only six people.

Three people isolated
“We now have three people isolated at the ward.”

The body of Sir Michael would arrived in Wewak on Sunday.

He will be buried at his Kreer Heights property on Tuesday.

Mauludu said the hospital staff had a meeting on Monday to discuss how to best deal with a spike in cases.

“The hospital staff met and passed a number of resolutions, one of which was to seek permission for the use of the stadium after the burial programme of the late Sir Michael,” he said.

“We would like to propose to convert the stadium into a quarantine and isolation area.”

Mauludu added that they were also very strict with the movement of people in and out of the hospital.

“We continue to screen people going in and out of the hospital.

“We encourage people to wear masks before coming into the hospital.

“Those who continue to defy this are fined K10,” he said.

Sir Michael, 84, died in Port Moresby on February 26.

Asia Pacific Report republishes The National articles with permission.

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