PORT MORESBY (NBC PNG News/ABC News/Pacnews) —  About 400 people including health workers in Papua New Guinea have so far been vaccinated in the National Capital District since the rollout last week. 

These are from the 8,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines that were brought in from Australia recently.  

National Control Center Deputy Incidence Manager Dr. Melinda Susapu said vaccination will resume this week following the Easter break, with priority given to frontline health workers.

Health workers in the nation's capital are top on the list to be vaccinated followed by provinces. 

Susapu said the AstraZeneca vaccine will be rolled out to hot spot provinces, given the upsurge in Covid-19 cases. 

These hot spot provinces include Western Province, West Sepik, East Sepik, Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands, East, and West New Britain.

Growing number

Meanwhile, nurses in the country fear a collapse of the health system soon, due to a growing number of them contracting Covid-19.

The president of the PNG Nurses Association, Frederick Kebai, said the government must seriously address the manpower crisis facing frontline health workers.

“We want to work but we want Health Department to look after our health as well,” said Kebai.

He said apart from Covid-19, there are other diseases too that nurses are attending to.

There are also fears that Papua New Guinea's Covid-19 crisis is being used as an excuse to carry out sorcery accusation violence as the number of coronavirus cases climb.

The total number of cases has now passed 7,400, while six deaths were recorded.

Advocates have raised their concern after the National newspaper reported that a 45-year-old woman and daughter were accused of sorcery and tortured by their in-laws after her husband died from Covid-19. 

Researcher Dr. Fiona Hukula said people were fearful over unexplained deaths and there's a lack of information about Covid-19.

“That will give ammunition to accusations because people don't know what Covid is or where it’s coming from,” Hukula said.

She said leaders in the community and at national level must do their part to dispel Covid-19 misinformation.

 Hukula, who is an advocate and campaigner against sorcery violence said there needs to be critical reflection on stories that blame to women.

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