A Papua New Guinea member of Parliament died from Covid-19 this week, but it still wasn’t enough to convince many Papua New Guineans that the virus is real and is probably out of control in their country.
Misinformation and lack of trust in authority are so widespread in PNG that social media questions and vilifies the country’s most experienced doctors and scientists.
Even the PNG National Pandemic Controller, David Manning, was accused of peddling a hoax when he confirmed the MP for Open Kerema, 53-year old Richard Mendani, had died from Covid-19 at the weekend.
Conspiracy theories are spreading faster than Covid-19 on PNG social media. Posts claim Covid-19 is an invention of the West to control population, that Papua New Guineans are guinea pigs for vaccines and that God is protecting Melanesians from catching the disease.
The senior consultant specialist clinician at the Port Moresby General Hospital, Glen Mola, called it the “bullshit of social media” in a Facebook post this week.
He wrote: “Sorry, getting a bit frustrated here with some of my compatriots. Health workers are risking their lives to continue to provide health services and many people are just spending their time on screens accusing us of unethical practice, criminal and corrupt misuse of government funds and putting forward false, ridiculous, unfounded conspiracy theories for which there is no evidence.”
Earlier in the week he warned that his hospital would not be able to keep its doors open and women “may end up dying in the hospital car park."
Women scientists and journalists in particular have been singled out for vile misogynistic abuse on