Covid-19 has greatly surged in Papua New Guinea! There are scattered reports coming back to us that hospitals are full and people are sick and dying in the parking lots of the few medical clinics. Unlike the rest of the developing world, vaccines are not reaching PNG. Australia sent around 8,000 vaccines for health care workers only. But this is a drop in the bucket in impacting the nearly 9 million who live in the country.
PNG, until now, has had relatively few cases. Why this surge?
Imagine if George Washington were alive today. Imagine how honored and revered he would be by our nation. Papua New Guinea is a relatively young nation. After the island was torn apart by fierce fighting in World War II, it was formed and governed by Australia. Similar to the journey of the United States, PNG gained its independence from Australia in 1975, fortunately without bloodshed. That effort was led by Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. He was the first Prime Minister and led the young country in its fledgling democracy for nearly 40 years. He was 82 and died about a month ago of cancer. The entire country shut down for two weeks for what is traditionally called the “house cry.” After this mourning period, he was buried in his hometown of Wewak. Thousands of people traveled to Wewak for the burial. The combination of this close interaction of people from all the provinces, lack of testing, and a medical system that is “on the verge of collapse” according to the WHO, have all contributed to a crisis in PNG.
We have used every communication at our disposal to get the word to those in Hauna to not travel to Wewak. Although Zech needs to travel to Port Moresby for supplies, we are holding off until this crisis subsides.