African swine fever found in highlands
Frieda River mine ‘unfit for purpose’

4,000 nurses to strike over coronavirus

People last-minute shopping in Kokopo ahead of the coronavirus lockdown (Kalolaine Fainu  The Guardian)
People last-minute shopping in Kokopo ahead of the coronavirus lockdown (Kalolaine Fainu,  The Guardian)

| Guardian Australia

PORT MORESBY - Four thousand nurses are expected to participate in strikes across Papua New Guinea this week over concerns that the Pacific nation lacks the medical supplies and funding to handle a potential coronavirus outbreak.

The industrial action follows a sit-in by nearly 600 nurses in the capital of Port Moresby on Thursday over concerns about the lack of personal protective equipment for medical staff.

Gibson Siune, the general secretary of the PNG Nurses Association said the majority of the association’s members, which represents roughly 20% of the country’s nursing workforce, would participate in the protests for as long as it took until their concerns were heard by the national government.

“Around 4,000 nurses throughout the country are expected to participate in this protest,” he said.

The country recorded its first confirmed case of Covid-19 on 20 March, an imported case from a foreign mine worker who has since been sent to Australia for treatment.

A 14-day state of emergency came into effect on Tuesday imposing a curfew on the country’s roughly eight million residents and restricting travel across the country.

The state of emergency has also imposed significant restrictions on who can speak to the media, with many doctors saying they were forbidden from discussing issues with the Guardian.

A senior doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Guardian Australia: “PNG is not prepared to fight the virus simply because it does not have the funds to do so.

“The national government must come clean on the financial front and tell the people whether there is money available to fight the coronavirus or not, because currently almost all hospitals lack basic medical supplies to attend to ordinary illnesses in the country.”

Residents in Port Moresby have also come out expressing concern about the possible shortage of food and other basic necessities in shops and markets, as the country went into lock down.

One resident told Guardian Australia: “I don’t think the lock down is a good idea, as many of our people are going into panic buying while other unfortunate ones are unable to do that now because they simply do not have the money to buy extra food and basic supplies.”

In response to the sit-in protest by nurses, prime minister James Marape gave assurances to the nurses and doctors that PPEs will be made available to them this week.

Marape has also assured Papua New Guineans that food and basic supplies will not run out and that they should not panic and that the national government is doing all it can to protect the people and ensure there are no new cases of the virus in the country.

Like other Pacific Island countries, it is fighting hard at keeping its first case at just one, while also trying to ensure there is no local transmission.

The prime minister, James Marape, said when parliament is recalled on Thursday, “two bills will be enacted as Emergency Laws and they are the proposed Emergency General Provisions Bill 2020 and the Proposed Emergency Defence Force COVID-19 Bill 2020.”

The deputy director of the PNG Institute of Medical Research, Dr Moses Laman, said the institute in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province, is fully capable of testing for the Covid-19 as it is accredited by the World Health Organisation.

“There is really no need for test samples to be further verified in Australia, however depending on the case and upon request from the National Government, samples are sent for further checks like the first confirmed case.”

Health Minister Jelta Wong said there are currently 580 testing kits available in the country, and another 4,000 will arrive over the next week.

“PCR testing equipment has arrived in Port Moresby already and is undergoing optimisation, by 1 April testing should begin with 200 tests per day.

“The Central Public Laboratory should come online on 8 April with another 200 tests per day, so collectively there will be 700 tests conducted per day in the country,” Mr Wong said.

The Bomana Immigration Centre is among two other facilities being considered to be used as isolation units for coronavirus cases in Port Moresby.

The police minister, Bryan Kramer, said “the centre is an extremely new modern facility built by the Australian Government which is being considered among the others at Six Mile and the Rita Flynn courts.”


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Lindsay F Bond

Ingenuity and commendable integrity, keeps at work "ICU staff forced to make own PPE with stationery".

This is reported of a location in Australia, similar to efforts reported from many nations.

Confronted with supply shortfalls, in COVID-19 clinics and emergency facilities , catch-up and ‘catch as catch can’ are prevalent tactics in service deliveries for acquiring PPE.

Health frontline staff may now be better informed about essential capability differences between mask types P2 (model 8210) and P2 (model N95).

Yet in order to serve COVID-19 sufferers, and not to be thwarted by lag in supply, some are resorting to improvisation, even choosing to risk ad hoc materials for PPE solutions.



‘catch as catch can’: “Done by any means or in any possible way, often haphazardly”.


‘thwart’ “to stop something from happening or someone from doing something.”


‘PPE’: Personal Protective Equipment

Lindsay F Bond

Mobile networks in PNG would probably be capable of rolling out an app similar to that in the UK, to enable "front-line workers to report personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages."


That said, this writer urges only that hope and is not verifying the app in the report.

Lindsay F Bond

Innovation is essential especially when novel viruses invade human health.
To be celebrated at this 'unmasking' announcement is the prospect that the invention will lead to a robust, effective and surprisingly cost effective product some time soon.

Lindsay F Bond

Innovation where it is most needed in treating patients evidencing COVID-19 symptoms, is reported from the UK.
Instead of rigid plastic boxes comes design and built "disposable plastic 'pop-up tent' which creates a protective barrier between patients and healthcare professionals."
Much as it may seem unlikely, question can be asked, whether a similar configuration of cane and plastic can be made to be effective and produced in PNG?

Lindsay F Bond

Praiseworthy is the company from a note that it was/is assisting at no cost.
So some attention to Green Telemed, but also to PMGH having ventilators “ready to use in treating Covid-19 cases".

Most commentators at PNG Attitude are strong supporters of goodwill for the people of Papua New Guinea and this writer intends no disparagement of legitimate processes. Thus any question asked is for ensuring clarity, even correction, commendation and such.

In October 2015, a news item was: “Green TeleMed is a private company which bought medical equipment from the Department of Health after they won a tender for it.”
Was that medical equipment actually sold to Green Telemed, or was the medical equipment only made available to Green Telemed for a ‘courier’ process?
Was GreenTelemed engaged for introductory training in use of the equipment in 2015?

Lindsay F Bond

Do I hear a round of applause, for "..mates in the fuel industry [who] deliver it for free"?
Are there equivalent "all in it together" reports from PNG, about "...good will and resourcefulness"?

Lindsay F Bond

Weighed down it seems by the creep of public opinion "US Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigns over handling of USS Theodore Roosevelt coronavirus stoush."


Winners are somewhat scarce amid Covid-19, yet some new air lifts standing for USA Navy Captain Brett Crozier.

Lindsay F Bond

Some news of PPE supply ought be more widely told.
One report from BBC (UK) is of frontline staff (nurses).
Official statement is: "The government has acknowledged distribution problems, but says a national supply team, supported by the armed forces, is now "working around the clock" to deliver equipment."
There the frontline staff are "having to put bin bags and aprons on [their] heads", and that they are lacking adequate "head protection and long-sleeved gowns".
That makes sobering reading.
Let's hope PNG Health Department is moving to adequately supply PPE for it's frontline staff.

Bernard Corden

Dear Lindsay,

Worth a read:

The US Department of Defence claims the crew was on active duty and its Feres Doctrine applies.

Lindsay F Bond

Of pandemic situations, making sense and moving to remedies is 'par'.
So a 'whole in one' is unlikely a winning play where it's a crewed ship.
On ships for war, leadership is about achieving each intended outcome.
USA Navy Captain Brett Crozier, commander of aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt seems to have splayed his salvo, with risk to his own career, but scored in bringing remedy to those in his crew suffering COVID-19.
His crew displayed appreciation.
His resource touched a Thomas B Modly, Navy Undersecretary who was nominated to the position by President Donald Trump" See:
There, seems it careered, screwed.

Lindsay F Bond

A note about the standard of ‘wear’. A mask needs be effective, not obscure the truth.

An effective mask is one proven for "filtering out the small particles which carry the virus", and is new, not recycled.

About other 'wear', where from the UK and about London Ambulance Service, comes report on “Paramedic protective kit”…“only fit for making sandwiches”.

Claim is that the “apron staff have to wear is the "thinnest thing you can imagine" and “covers maybe 30% of your uniform.”

From Australia comes report of imported “faulty face masks and other protective clothing” being seized by Australian Border Force officers, and presumably confiscated.

These reports appear at reputable news agencies. PNG folk then ought be made fully aware of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) now in use and now being procured and supplied. There is no harm in asking. There is great potential of harm in not knowing.

In PNG's NCD, there is report that PPE is to be supplied to Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) and some eight clinic facilities. This follows on a strike by nurses at PMGH, and appears somewhat a reaction from that.

The supplier admitted to being able only to deliver in small batches.

Thus a note about wear, but question about when.

Then too, be aware this writer is offering opinion, not accredited by relevant authority.

Philip Kai Morre

In the case of the emergency relating to COVID 19, clinical experts are an integral part of medical testing, care and treatment, patient isolation, awareness and providing safety measures.

They are the ones who will give us the right information on the COVID 19 pandemic and not any Tom, Dick and Harry on the street. They have to be given first priority.

Security forces including police and defence force are to carry out enforcing regulations and safety measures imposed by the government.

These include monitoring the movement of people, controlling public transport, and securing provincial and national boundaries including sea and land.

Right now we are messing up things, with politicians and bureaucrats taking advantage.

We people need to listen and obey safety measures regulations by keeping social distance, keep clean, stay at home and assist what we can.

The nurses strike is genuine and out of their concern because there is nothing they can do without safety equipment and other medical items.

The government needs to respond quickly before more problems occur.

Lindsay F Bond

If this COVID-19 enters and is identified spreading at the lands of PNG, what scale of magnitude?

No APEC, no regional or international sports, and certainly no football game will engage and require a population to give so much attention, and require to pay attention to reports and best advice, to travel from unknowing, to being fully aware and for conscious procedural participation.

In a tradition of following the leader, this is now time for growing national trust.

In this time of social media, this calls for truth, for minds that are thinking, caring.

In this trouble so unexpected, this is where every crew strokes together, smoothly and sure.

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