Three months into the coronavirus crisis, Myagdi has yet to set up an isolation centrePlans to set up an isolation facility have yet to materialise because of a dispute among the members of Covid-19 Command Control Post.
Over three months since the country reported its first coronavirus case and one-and-a-half months since it went into lockdown, Myagdi district in Gandaki Province has yet to set up an isolation centre to shelter individuals who show symptoms of the viral disease.
The district administration had planned to set up a 20-bed isolation centre in Beni, the district headquarters, but the plan has yet to materialise because of an intra-party dispute among the members of the Covid-19 Command Control Post, a task force formed to tackle the disease. The members of the task force disagree on the location of the centre and issues regarding the purchase of materials for the centre.
The district administration had decided to turn the Beni Hospital to a temporary isolation centre, but the hospital is ill-equipped with only six beds and no ventilator and ICU facility. The task force had initially planned to set up the isolation centre in the vicinity of the Beni Hospital, but it is yet to be unanimously agreed.
The task force comprises members of security offices and Beni Hospital, local unit representatives and officials from the District Administration office. The feud has stemmed out of confusion on who would pay for the material and logistics of the isolation centre.
“We have said we’d look after the logistics and facilitate the purchase but we can’t invest in the equipment for the centre,” said Bel Bahadur Katuwal, chair of Beni Hospital Management Committee.
Katuwal added that the committee has issued a tender notice for the purchase of equipment but the Beni Municipality Office has yet to come on board. The municipality office has, however, protested any involvement of the hospital in the purchase. Involvement of two or more parties in the setting up of an isolation centre may invite financial and auditing conflict of interest later, said Chhabilal Subedi, chief administrative officer at the municipality. However, the hospital had issued the tender notice on the pretext that the five local units and the municipal office would collectively bear the cost of the equipment.
Gyannath Dhakal, chief district officer, said that the centre would be established soon after reaching a consensus. “The crisis seems to have just started, so an isolation centre is a must for the district,” he said. “We will reach a consensus and set up the centre soon.”