Papua New Guinea is on the precipice and it needs an urgent intervention

This Aug. 18, 2020 file photo shows Papua New Guinea vendors running business as usual in a public market. Photo courtesy of UN Volunteers

Port Moresby (Lowy Institute) -- Papua New Guinea is on the brink of a health catastrophe. Covid-19 is rapidly spreading across the entire country. What little testing is being done shows cases have been rising exponentially over the past two months.

The hospitals are now overrun, with health workers being infected at an alarming rate. Beyond official statistics, the “Haus Krais” of mourning are being heard across the country’s capital, Port Moresby, as deaths spike.

Authorities are poised to order burials in a “designated mass grave” as morgues grow full. Prime Minister James Marape has said PNG is on red alert as positive case numbers continue to accelerate, while PNG’s former prime minister Peter O’Neill is warning of a total health crisis and calling for more international support.