Covid news from PNG: Yeah, stats are hard
11 November 2021
NOOSA – I was interested to read that Papua New Guinea’s shadow health minister Elias Kapavore, who represents the good people of Pomio in parliament, has calculated that the PNG recovery rate from Covid is an unbelievable 99%.
The global recovery rate is 90%, which happens to be the same in Australia. So why, with Covid on the rampage through PNG, is the recovery rate so high?
There were a reported 1,666 cases last week, which by itself is five percent of the total.
Well clearly Kapavore is very wrong, even though he has a management degree, two masters’ degrees in public and business administration and was CEO of Vanimo Hospital and the West Sepik Provincial Health Authority before entering politics.
Kapavore must have neglected to take the statistics option in those masters’ degrees. If he had, he would have spotted the error. The data he had was far from complete.
We know, of course, that very many, perhaps most, Covid cases in PNG go undiagnosed, that authorities have no idea how many people have caught it nor how many have recovered from it. Let alone how many people are experiencing the serious after-effects known as ‘long Covid’.
A recent European study of 273,000 people showed one-third of them Covid were still experiencing symptoms between three and six months, including many who had shown no symptoms in the first three months of ‘recovery’.
Meanwhile, the real health minister, Jelta Wong, condemned Kapavore for misinforming Papua New Guineas, saying there were many people dying from Covid not included in official figures due to non-reporting.
If that’s the best Kapavore can do, he looks like being in opposition for a very long time to come.
ONE OF PNG Attitude’s favourite sons, author and journalist Daniel Kumbon, was laid low for two grim weeks fighting off Covid but is now recovering.
Daniel was delighted to see an extract from his book, ‘I Can See My Country Clearly Now’, used in the recent Grade 12 English test in the national exams. (The book is downloadable free here on PNG Attitude.)
But, as the delight eased, Daniel reckoned even the Enga students wouldn’t know the book exists.
“These books rarely see the shelves of Enga’s school libraries,” he said. “Sometimes I wonder what students exactly do read in schools these days.”
In recuperation, Daniel is working on another book, his ninth, ‘Legend of the Miok Egg’.
“That my writing was recognised enough to be used in the national exams encouraged me back to the keyboard,” he told me. Can’t keep a writer down. We never die, we just can’t find a publisher.
The Covid spike in Enga that caught Daniel in its net has seen massive numbers of positive cases flocking to health facilities and put a huge strain on health staff.
Despite this there is still major resistance to vaccination country, prompting Enga governor Sir Peter Ipatas to say wants to have the province’s 450,000 people vaccinated next year.
The way things are going this will be far too late for many people.
UNICEF's chief nutritionist Andrew Musyoki has revealed that malnutrition among PNG's children has worsened since the pandemic began.
It was bad enough before, with 40% of children under the age of five stunted before the pandemic, but a survey has found that child malnutrition, especially in the Highlands and in urban areas, is now worse.
“About 31% of households reported there had been a time in their past 30 days when they had been hungry but not eaten because there was not enough money or other resources,” Musyoki said.
MOROBE government has strongly condemned recent violent attacks on health workers and volunteers.
his follows the revelation that the emergency department at Lae’s ANGAU Memorial Hospital was temporarily closed in late October after staff were attacked by relatives of a man who died of Covid.
Health workers have been further stressed by the Marape government failure to honour a pay rise awarded to more than 300 hundred nurses.
This led to protests on Monday that have continued through this week.
Morobe Health boss Dr Kipas Binga has urged the nurses to go back to work because PNG is battling with Covid.
Well that’s an incentive if ever I saw one.
The Morobe nurses have been joined by colleagues at Nonga General Hospital in Rabaul, where my beautiful daughter Sally was born, and elsewhere in the country who are also protesting over unpaid allowances.
Meanwhile it has been revealed that the emergency department at Lae’s ANGAU Memorial Hospital’s was temporarily closed in late October after health workers were attacked by relatives of a man who had died of Covid.
SHORT TAKES. § Misinformation and anti-vaccination messages have villagers in Simbu confused and unwilling to get vaccinated against Covid. They're also not permitting their children to be immunised against other diseases, which has led to a measles outbreak. § Nine people die in a Covid surge in Bougainville and president Toroama tells people to stop taking the disease lightly. § There’s been a protest by National Capital District Commission public servants at Waigani against the ‘no jab, no job’ policy. § Meanwhile, to maintain consistency of government policy, Education Minister Jimmy Uguro said vaccination for teachers is voluntary. § Tourism Minister Isi Henry Leonard has worked out that vaccination is the key to reviving PNG's stone dead tourism industry. But with anti-vaxxers running rampant, only 1.7% of the population fully vaccinated and Covid loving it, I don't fancy Leonard's chances.
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