The PNG Government has released a statement loosely attributing the death of a woman, who had been battling cancer, to COVID-19.
The 48-year-old from the Central province died five days ago from multiple organ failure caused by breast cancer.
She tested positive for COVID-19 during routine testing at the Port Moresby General Hospital.
While this is being officially listed as Papua New Guinea’s 17th case, the Health Department is reluctant to directly attribute her death to COVID-19 saying her “illness and death may have been complicated” by the disease.
Health Secretary Dr. Paison Dakulala, issued a statement echoing expert narratives repeated at press conferences.
“Throughout the world, we have seen COVID-19 attack patients that have underlying medical conditions and while we cannot say this patient died of COVID-19, it speaks to the science that is out there in the world that what we have been saying. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate. It can attack the most vulnerable.”
Health Minister, Jelta Wong sent his condolences to the family of the woman and urged everyone to be “vigilant and mitigate the risks.”
Three months ago, the State of Emergency Controller, David Manning, broadened the case definition of COVID-19, ordering all health facilities to all respiratory illnesses as suspected COVID-29 cases unless proven otherwise.
Health staff who have been at the forefront of the screening and prevention process have been frustrated over the chronic shortage of test kits and the lack of support.
Meanwhile, questions on the handling of the body of the deceased and contact tracing of those the deceased had come in contact with was not outlined in the statement.
Will have more at 6pm.