Health workers are asking how the nation’s fractured health system, which routinely leaves clinics without soap or disinfectant and where nurses report using nappies as gauze to mop up blood and rice packets in lieu of gloves, would deal with an outbreak.
The country is already dealing with outbreaks of malaria, dengue fever, drug-resistant tuberculosis and polio.
If anything, the fears are even more acute in rural health clinics, where the resources for nursing staff are even fewer.
“We struggle with drug shortages, we have endless problems with our facilities and our wards,” says Rosemary Darius, the head nurse at the Warangoi village clinic in rural East New Britain.
“We don’t have proper equipment to treat patients with we don’t have proper instruments or disinfectants to sanitise our instruments – if coronavirus comes here, we will be disabled. We have nothing to disinfect with.”