Five months after the first COVID-19 case was detected in Kathmandu, and after many experts were puzzled about why the virus was not spreading as fast as elsewhere, parts of Nepal and Kathmandu city are now in the vortex of the pandemic.
Hospitals in Tarai cities are fast filling up with symptomatic cases, and doctors say patients requiring ICU treatment and ventilator support are on the rise.
On Thursday, Kathmandu Valley recorded its highest daily rise of 87 positive cases. All beds are occupied in hospitals with designated wards for coronavirus patients. Overwhelmed, doctors are sending asymptomatic patients to home isolation. Some were diverted to Kathmandu Medical College’s facility in Duwakot and Ayurveda Hospital in Kirtipur.
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The government has approached private hospitals to start opening COVID-19 wards, and had set the maximum treatment charge per patient. However, private hospitals are balking, they say the fees are too low for the care needed.
“Self-isolation at home has worked elsewhere but in Nepal where people don’t strictly follow safety measures, patients are ostracised, and there is a lack proper rescue mechanism, it might not be the best strategy,” cautions BaburamMarasini, former head of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division. “It would be better to move asymptomatic cases to available government training centres, non-profit institutions, and if needed even hotels and hostels.”