Record jump in virus cases signals impending crisis in Nepal

8 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

KATHMANDU: Health workers and authorities in Nepal are struggling to contain a massive surge of Covid-19 cases as infections spill over from neighbouring India's deadly second wave.

In last three weeks, Nepal's daily case trajectory has shot up with two out of five people tested now returning positive. On Thursday, Nepal reported 8,970 cases, the highest single day increase, reports AFP.

More than 3,500 people have died since the pandemic began, 400 of them in the last two weeks alone, according to official figures.

"Health facilities have been flooded with symptomatic cases... The situation could become worse in the coming days," Hemanta Chandra Ojha at Nepal's Epidemiology and Disease Control Division told AFP.

"We can manage the oxygen supplies but ventilators and ICU facilities required for the treatment of severe cases are in short supply."

The country's health system has been overwhelmed by the sudden spike, with hospitals filling fast.

Nepal shares a 1,850-kilometre (1,150-mile) open border with India, and communities commonly travel across it for work and to visit family, and many are now returning home.

In Bheri Hospital in Nepalgunj, a city bordering India's Utter Pradesh state, health workers are working tirelessly as the patient flow continues to grow.

"The hospital is overloaded, we are treating patients at each and every corner of the building," said Badri Chapagain, a doctor at the hospital.

Relatives of patients are scrambling for medicine and intensive care beds.

Tanka Nath Pandey spent two days looking for an ICU bed for his ailing brother-in-law in Kathmandu.

"I cannot say how difficult it was. We have found a bed now but we are searching for Remdesivir vials. We are exhausted," Pandey said.

Surya Raj Pandey, who co-founded Covid Connect Nepal, a volunteer group to help patients, said that requests for ICU beds and oxygen cylinders are growing each day and it is becoming harder to find matches.