KATHMANDU: Patients in Nepal are gasping for breath, as authorities said they were facing an acute shortage of medical oxygen due to which 16 people infected with COVID-19 died recently, according to media reports.
The deadly virus has so far infected 413,111 people and claimed 4,084 lives in the country, which has a population of approximately 29.5 million. The government on Wednesday asked private hospitals to install their own oxygen plants to meet the need of oxygen within 15 days, the Himalayan Times reported.
According to the decision, all private hospitals with more than 100 beds will have to install their own oxygen plant and the government will provide the necessary support for this purpose. The Ministry of Health and Population said it was the responsibility of all the hospitals to set up their own oxygen plants.
“Since many private hospitals have not done so, we will help them set up the plant to meet the increasing demand of oxygen for COVID patients,” said Dr Jageshwor Gautam, spokesperson for the ministry.
The government has estimated that around 15,000 oxygen cylinders are required to meet the current demand for oxygen. In contrast, there are only around 8,000 oxygen cylinders in the country. COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre, an apex government body for dealing with the pandemic, during Wednesday’s meeting, pointed out that the country might need 50,000 oxygen cylinders by July-end.
The report said that some government hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley on Wednesday said that they no longer had oxygen supply to treat COVID patients, but they had enough cylinders to fill oxygen. At least 12 hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley have announced plans to stop admitting COVID-19 patients for treatment due to shortage of oxygen, My Republica reported on Wednesday.
“The hospital is facing an acute shortage of oxygen and the government is providing only 100 oxygen cylinders per day so we cannot admit any new COVID-19 patients to the hospital,” the Grande International Hospital in Kathmandu said.
Various hospitals in the Bhaktapur district of the Valley are struggling to save the lives of COVID-19 patients due to the shortage of medical oxygen, the Himalayan Times reported. Many hospitals in the district have been flooded with patients following the second wave of the infection.
Due to the shortage, many hospitals have refused to admit coronavirus patients. Meanwhile, in Rupandehi district of Nepal, a total of 16 COVID-19 patients died due to oxygen shortage on Wednesday, the Kathmandu Post reported.
Seven patients died at Bhim Hospital of Bhairahawa, five at Butwal’s COVID Special Hospital, and four at Bhairahawa’s Universal Teaching Hospital. Most COVID-19 health facilities in Rupandehi have been reporting a shortage of oxygen supply since Tuesday.
The hospitals providing treatment to COVID-19 patients had appealed to the government bodies seeking help and informing them about the catastrophic results if immediate steps were not taken. “Efforts are on to refill oxygen from Chitwan, Pokhara and Biratnagar excluding the production within the province. Liquid oxygen is also being ferried,” Shankar Pokharel, Chief Minister of Lumbini Province, posted on Facebook on Wednesday.