Country 'flooded' with patients as it faces next COVID catastrophe

·News Reporter
·3-min read

Nepal’s Covid-19 cases have risen by 1200 per cent in less than a month as the country faces a catastrophic second wave of coronavirus.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows Nepal’s seven-day moving average skyrocketing from the start of April from a few hundred to more than 8,000.

Doctors in Nepal have warned of a major crisis as daily cases hit record highs and hospitals were running out of beds and oxygen.

Nepal army wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) suits in a vehicle as they wait to transport the body of a person who died from Covid-19 coronavirus to a crematorium in Kathmandu.
Members of the army prepare to move a person who died from Covid-19 to a crematorium in Kathmandu. Source: Getty Images

Nepal reported 9,070 new confirmed cases Thursday, compared with 298 a month ago. The number of fatalities also reached peaks with 58 Wednesday and 54 Thursday, for a total of 3,529.

As of Thursday, Nepal's cumulative number of confirmed Covid-19 cases had surpassed 360,000. Of all the test results, a disturbingly high 44 per cent are returning a positive result for coronavirus.

Dr Archana Shrestha, an associate professor with the public health department of Kathmandu University, said that Nepal is now at the early stage of the second wave of the pandemic.

There are concerns cases from India may have spread to Nepal as the countries share a border.

A graph shows Nepal's Covid-19 cases surging.
Nepal's Covid cases have surged over the past month. Source: Johns Hopkins University

Nepal Red Cross chairman, Dr Netra Prasad Timsina told CNN what’s “happening in India right now is a horrifying preview of Nepal’s future if we cannot contain this latest Covid surge”.

Nepal Epidemiology and Disease Control Division's Hemanta Chandra Ojha told the ABC health facilities have been “flooded” with symptomatic cases, putting stress on healthcare resources.

“We can manage the oxygen supplies but ventilators and ICU facilities required for the treatment of severe cases are in short supply,” Dr Ojha said.

Nepal 'out of hospital beds'

The country also has only 1600 intensive care beds as it faces a surge in patients.

Dr Jyotindra Sharma, chief of Hospital for Advanced Medicine & Surgery in Kathmandu said there were no beds left in any hospitals treating Covid patients.

"Even if any beds were made available, there is a huge scarcity of oxygen and we are not at the peak of this crisis,” Dr Sharma said.

At the hospital, one of the leading facilities in Nepal for treating Covid-19 patients, extra beds were crammed in to accommodate more people.

They've all been taken and the only way to get admitted is through a waiting list.

"In the extreme situation, people could be dying in the streets," Dr Sharma said, adding it's "just not possible to immediately increase the capacity of the hospitals".

Relatives of a person who died of Covid-19 mourn near the body at a crematorium in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Relatives mourn a Covid-19 victim in Kathmandu. Source: Getty Images

A lockdown was imposed last month in major cities and towns and Nepal this week stopped both domestic and international flights.

Nepal began its vaccination campaign in January with 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca shots donated by India but it had been suspended because of India's refusal to allow exports as its own crisis worsened.

The vaccination resumed when China donated 800,000 doses and Nepal is negotiating with Russia for supplies of the Sputnik V shots.

Earlier in April, the Ministry of Health and Population estimated that single-day confirmed cases in Nepal could reach 11,000 at the worst scenario.

Dr Krishna Prasad Paudel, director of the epidemiology and disease control division under the ministry, warned that the situation could get even worse if no strict containment measures are taken in time.

with Wires