17 Apr 2003

PNG health workers says they could not cope with SARS

4:57 pm on 17 April 2003

Papua New Guinea medical authorities say they would not be able to handle an outbreak of SARS in the country.

During a one day preparedness workshop for SARS in Port Moresby, health workers revealed that poor facilities in hospitals would leave them vulnerable to infection.

They say basic equipment such as goggles and masks were unavailable and that standard surgical masks would not protect them from SARS.

The health workers say that 40 percent of those who have died from SARS in countries where the disease is reported were medical staff.

The Post Courier reports doctors saying that while attempts were being made to check suspects at the airports and sea ports, it would be hard to tell if the disease was already in PNG.

They say the incubation period was two to seven days, during which time the person could develop the symptoms and spread it to others in the community.