Five people were suffocated in a hospital in Nepal this week after being depleted of oxygen. It is the latest victim of a vicious COVID-19 surge that is at risk of destroying poor countries and their unequipped medical systems.
According to official statistics that appear to underreport the size of the virus, as in neighboring India, new daily cases have increased 60-fold since April 1st to 1,000 in the last 10 days. Nearby died.
In a mountainous country of nearly 30 million people, hospitals are flooded with serious cases as oxygen cylinders emptied faster than they could be replenished and nearly half of the tests returned positive.
In the capital, Kathmandu, some hospitals have said they have been unable to accept new patients, keeping away desperate relatives looking for beds for infected loved ones.
And the Nepalese prime minister is now faced with blame for missing an opportunity to stop the spread of the virus. It allows rallies and travel abroad, even if the number of incidents has surged to catastrophic levels across the Indian border.
Samir Kumar Adikali, head of the Heath Emergency Operations Center at the Ministry of Health, said the country is currently in a “crisis situation.”
“If even 20 percent of the isolation of thousands of homes requires hospital beds and care, it may reach a point where we can’t handle it,” he said.
Five COVID-19 patients who died this week were being treated in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Lupinedehi, southern Nepal.
“Our car was lining up with cylinders to refill at three different refill stations, but couldn’t refill on time,” said Bishnu Gautam, a doctor at Lumbini State Hospital, AFP. Told to.
Gaurav Sharda, chairman of the Nepalese Oxygen Industry Association, said demand exceeds production capacity.
“All Kathmandu oxygen plants are up and running 24 hours a day, supplying oxygen at full capacity. We can only replenish 8,000 cylinders a day, but demand is much higher.”
Nepal is one of the least funded healthcare systems in the world, with fewer doctors per capita than India.
The reason for the surge in incidents is similar to that of its huge neighbor. Nepal began recording an increase in incidents in early April, a month after India, but the government continued to allow even large religious festivals and political rallies to be organized.
Many Nepalese attended the Kumbh Mela Festival in India with millions of local Hindu followers.
Indian travelers also flocked to Nepal to fly elsewhere as the world restricted flights from India until the ban came into force.
Former health minister Gagan Thapa, now an opposition lawmaker, said Nepal wasted an important two months that could have stopped the outbreak.
“Even if you made a mistake before, if you take advantage of that opportunity, the damage will be far less than what you are seeing now,” Tapa said.
Prime Minister KP Sharmaori faces intense criticism of his response to the pandemic.
As the number of cases increased, he suggested that gargling with guava leaves would cure the virus. Last year, it surpassed his comment that spices strengthen Nepal’s immune system.
On Monday, Ori lost a vote of confidence in Congress due to a political struggle rather than a pandemic, and negotiations are currently underway to form a new government.
The Nepalese Medical Association has appealed to politicians to “postpone political calculations” and prioritize saving lives.
Nepal usually relies on India for most of its medicines, but its strong neighbors are now busy fighting their own crisis.
In March, New Delhi effectively frozen vaccine exports, focused on its needs and delivered only half of what Nepal ordered.
Only 2.4 million shots from India and China have been administered, with just over 1% of people receiving both.
This is even worse than India, which is fully vaccinated to about 3 percent of the population.
Nepal is now seeking help from China and sent an aircraft this week to pick up the first 400 from the promised 20,000 oxygen cylinders and other supplies.
Beijing has also provided Nepal with 800,000 coronavirus vaccines.
Nepalese abroad are gathering to get urgent help for the country, and when US senators discuss aid to the country, # vacationines4nepal is trending on Twitter on Wednesday.
Sarah Beisorou Nyanti, UN resident coordinator in Nepal, said the country needs “urgent” assistance.
“We have the same burden as India, but we are less capable of dealing with it,” she told AFP.
“It is important that the international community recognizes Nepal’s vulnerabilities differently than India.”
On Monday, the government made a formal call to development partners for assistance in prioritizing oxygen, ICU equipment and vaccines.
“If the help we are looking for does not arrive, we will face a horrifying situation that is very difficult to manage,” said Dr. Adikali, a health ministry official.