Crossing the border from a catastrophic upheaval in India, doctors in Nepal on Friday warned of a major crisis as records of daily coronavirus cases spread and hospitals ran out of beds and oxygen.
There were 9,070 new confirmed cases in Nepal on Thursday compared to 298 a month ago. According to official figures, more than 3,500 people have died since the epidemic began, 400 of them alone in the last two weeks.
Jyotindra Sharma, chief of Kathmandu’s Hospital for Advanced Medicine and Surgery, told The Associated Press: “There are no beds available at the moment to treat COV patients.
“Even if a bed is found, there is a huge oxygen crisis and we are not at the top of this crisis.”
In the hospital, one of the main facilities in Nepal for the treatment of COPID-19 patients, extra beds were pressed to accommodate more people. These have all been taken and the only way to get admitted is through the waiting list.
“In extreme cases, people may die on the streets,” Sharma said. “It is not possible to increase the capacity of the hospital immediately.”
At the government-run Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, a number of COVID-19 patients lay on beds on the verandah and were shaken by oxygen cylinders. Others were turned away due to lack of space or equipment.
“We are under-prepared, under-motivated and under-capacited to do whatever is expected,” Vishal Kal, who has been working with coronavirus patients since the onset of the epidemic, told the AP.
A lockdown was imposed on major cities and towns last month and Nepal has suspended both domestic and international flights this week.
“We call on the international community to take immediate action to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe,” Azmat Ullah, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told Al Jazeera.
“No one is safe unless everyone is safe,” he added.
Application for international assistance
Earlier this week, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli appealed to the international community to ensure the supply of vaccines and treatment to help Nepal fight the virus.
The vaccination campaign in Nepal, which began in January, was met with uncertainty after half of the 50 supplies ordered from India.
In 300 million countries, only 2.4 million shots have been administered from India and China, and very few have received two doses.
Even in neighboring India, large-scale gatherings, including religious festivals, political gatherings and weddings, continue in the country after the lawsuit was filed.
Many Nepalis also attended the Kumbh Mela in India with millions of Hindu devotees, including former King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah and his queen, who were hospitalized after a positive test.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera’s Ramayata Limbu reports from Kathmandu that Nepali workers were returning to India in large numbers from places like Uttar Pradesh – yet there is a lack of segregation and isolation centers.
“The Ministry of Health has repeatedly warned the government about what will happen … but I guess it is a similar incident in India where incidents were very rare in January, early February. So we felt we were probably safe, ”he said.
Last week, Nepal banned Indians from using Kathmandu as a transit point after Indian nationals gradually started traveling from Kathmandu due to flight restrictions from India.