Doctors in Nepal have warned that the country is facing a similar devastating wave of Covid-19 as nearby India, with border districts already reporting an alarming rise in cases and shortages of hospital beds and oxygen.
In the Banke district of Nepal, bordering India, doctors at Bheri hospital said it was becoming a “mini-India” where coronavirus spread out of control.
On Thursday, the capital Kathmandu went into a two-week shutdown when Health Minister Hridayesh Tripathi warned that another wave hit the country, which was “more contagious and deadly”. Speaking to the Nepali Times, Tripathi said Nepal’s health system “cannot contain the pandemic”.
Banking has become one of the hardest hit areas outside of Kathmandu. On Friday morning, it reported 12 deaths in 24 hours, the highest daily death toll.
So far, Nepal has reported 323,187 cases and 3,279 deaths in Covid-19, but cases are rising at a rapid pace. The peak in October was 5,743 cases in a single day, but the current increase in cases already hit 5,657 cases on Friday.
Pandey is among doctors and health experts who believe the new B1617 variant, first discovered in India, which is thought to be more contagious, has spread in Nepal and is behind the recent rise in cases that have affected younger patients and even children this. time corresponding to the situation in India. However, scientific data are lacking to prove this.
“We do not have a machine to check which variant it is. We can not say because we do not have a sequencing machine. I’m told that they have brought the machine, but it is not in use, ”said Pandey.
But he was talking about a hospital already crowded with Covid-19 patents, many gasping for oxygen as they waited for hours outside the hospital gates, and a shortage of intensive care beds and ventilators.
“I, my mother and my father received Covid-19. My father’s situation worsened, it was almost impossible to get a ventilator, we had to fight for it, “says Sudil Kumar Lakhe in Banke, whose father has pneumonia after Covid-19 complications.
Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population issued a sharp statement this week that districts bordering India were the hardest hit and coronavirus cases rose rapidly.
“The cases are increasing so fast that the country’s health system cannot cope. We ask everyone to be sensible, ”reads a statement from the government.
With approx. 7% of the population have received their Covid-19 vaccine shots. Originally, Nepal was the recipient of Delhi’s “vaccine diplomacy”, with India donating 100,000 doses to its neighbor. But after India has stopped all vaccine exports in recent weeks, Nepal is dependent on China for doses and vaccine rollout has slowed.
The Nepalese government also denied reports that Covid-19 had reached Everest. Last week, it turned out that a Norwegian mountaineer, Erlend Ness, had been flown off the mountain after testing positive for Covid-19.
Although Covid cases are rising in Nepal, the government has issued 408 permits to climb Everest, which is a major source of tourist income.
Mohan Bahadur GC, director of the Department of Tourism, denied that there had been any Covid-19 cases in the Everest base camp.
When asked about some climbers flying back to Kathmandu and eventually testing positive after showing symptoms, he said: “There is no way to control Covid-19 in Everest base camp.”