The District Covid Crisis Management Centre (DCCMC) has recommended extending the lockdown in Kathmandu Valley by two more weeks following a meeting of the mayors of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts.
The ongoing restrictions enforced from 29 April for 15 days ends on Wednesday. And as of Monday, 70 out of 77 of Nepal’s districts have been placed under some form of lockdown to contain the second wave of the pandemic that is sweeping across the country.
“We have suggested two more weeks of prohibitory orders given that the rate of infection has not gone down, but we have yet to finalise that decision,” said Kathmandu Chief District Officer Kali Prasad Prajuli, adding that the discussion on Sunday focused primarily on oxygen management and creating public awareness.
Nepal has been reporting an excess of 8,000 new cases a day for a week now with the number of recorded infections doubling every three days among a largely unvaccinated population. Kathmandu registers half of all new infections in Nepal.
On Monday, there were additional 9,271 new infections and 139 fatalities. The number of active infections is closing on to 100,000, and the total confirmed cases exceeded 400,000 on Monday.
Nepal’s test positivity rate is exceptionally high at more than 40%, which is double India’s average. Even then, public health experts say it is a gross underestimation because of the limited number of tests.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday urged the Nepal government to act urgently to manage the rapidly escalating Covid-19 emergency and pleaded with foreign donors to increase the availability of emergency medical supplies including bottled oxygen, ventilators, and therapeutic drugs to the country.
“Nepal’s under-resourced public health system is strained beyond capacity,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Large volumes of oxygen equipment and other medical supplies are urgently needed to avert a Covid-19 catastrophe in the country.”
Nepal government’s Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for the Covid-19 Pandemic outlines that hospitalisation with oxygen support should be available for 15% of confirmed cases. But that is not the case and Nepal’s oxygen production capacity has been overstretched.
Given the sheer number of patients requiring hospital admissions, ICU, ventilator and oxygen, the country’s modest healthcare system is at the breaking point.
As of 10 May, there are 6,715 individuals undergoing treatment in hospitals. 910 of them are in ICU and 295 in ventilator support.
Kathmandu’s main infectious diseases hospital in Teku is full, and pateints are being cared for in open verandahs and parking lots – a scene repeated in government hospitals across the country.