Cause of death queried

Patients exhibiting symptoms at the ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital are immediately tested using the GeneXpert testing system.

The Morobe Provincial Health Authority CEO, Dr Kipas Binga, gave this response after he was asked about the procedure used to identify COVID-19 deaths.

Citizens are still skeptical with the methods used to identify a death as COVID-19 related.

Many have voiced concern that though their loved ones passed away from other medical conditions, the cause of death was listed as COVID-19.

Dr Binga was asked to clarify the matter during a media conference in Lae on Monday afternoon following concerns that a death from Butibam was wrongly identified as COVID-19.

Dr Binga outlined that the two methods of testing used in PNG are GeneXpert and polymerase chain reaction, or PCR.

The PCR machine is currently not working due to technical issues, not to mention the turnaround time takes 8 to 10 days as it is flown to Singapore. Dr Binga said based on their standard operating procedure, people with COVID-19 symptoms are swabbed and tested using the GeneXpert system.

“Mipla lukim olsem ol sotwin bikpla and our frontline workers as well, we need to know their status immediately and these are the ones we prioritise,” he stated.

“Mipla swabim ol na mipla ranim lo GeneXpert test blo mipla lo hia. So what we need is a cartridge, we just get the sample, put it into the machine and it will tell us whether it’s positive or negative.”

Dr Binga said the turnaround time is between one and two hours, adding the six deaths in Morobe were confirmed through GeneXpert testing.

Carmella Gware