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Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

A 48-year-old woman from Papua New Guinea’s Central Province who has died after a battle with stage 4 breast cancer has been identified as the 17th covid-19 case in the country.

This is the first covid-19 death recorded in PNG, reports the PNG Post-Courier.

The National Control Centre said last night that this case 17 is the 6th case identified in the last 5 days in Port Moresby, providing further evidence of community transmission in the capital city.

READ MORE: Al Jazeera coronavirus live updates – 600,000 dead as virus rebounds around the world

This case was identified during Port Moresby General Hospital’s routine swabbing of deaths of patients with respiratory symptoms.

The primary cause of death was multiple organ failure, which is reported to have spread through her lungs, liver and throughout her body. Her illness and death may have been complicated by covid-19.

“Throughout the world we have seen covid-19 attack patients that have had underlying medical conditions and while we cannot say this patient died of covid-19, it speaks to the science that is out there in the world and what we have been saying,” said Deputy Pandemic Controller Dr Paison Dakulala.

“Covid-19 doesn’t discriminate, it can attack the strongest or in this case the most vulnerable. It can even attack some of the smartest as is the case of doctors and health care workers around the world. We must all change the way we live, things will never be how they were before.”

‘Devastating to see’
Health Minister Jelta Wong also added: “Firstly, my condolences go out to the family of this lady. Almost every Papua New Guinean has lost a family member to cancer, and it is devastating to see that covid-19 infiltrated her system when it was at its weakest.

“But ladies and gentlemen, covid-19 is real and it is moving around our communities because we are simply being too complacent. The danger is that our people will think covid-19 exists at the Port Moresby General Hospital and if we stay away from there we will be ok. But that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.

“These last 6 positive cases were moving in and out of communities, attending church services, going to shopping centres, congregating at buai markets and using public transport.

“They could have been infected anywhere and God willing our contact tracing will discover that they haven’t infected others, but people aren’t listening.

“I also urge my colleagues in Parliament to be responsible with the messages you are sending to the general public. You are leaders. When you spread doubt among our people you weaken their resolve. We cannot afford to have our people drop their guards on covid-19.

“Our doctors and our scientists, our health workers, our military intelligence are working around the clock to keep us safe. Support their efforts, show them that their efforts are not in vain. You can campaign in 2022.

“Our children in their schools, and our people at work or in the community are experiencing change. I am happy to see wash basins, temperature checks and wearing of masks in public, but what are we doing when we go back home? Are we letting ourselves down?”

The 16th covid-19 case, a man who also works at the Central Public Health Laboratory in Port Moresby, was announced last Friday by Prime Minister James Marape.

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