Government mismanagement leads to crowding at hospitalsMany were forced to return without getting the jabs despite waiting in line for hours.
After standing in a queue for three hours at Alka Hospital in Bhanimandal, Lalitpur, Tularam Panday returned to his room in Doodhpati, Bhaktapur without getting the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine BBIBP-CorV.
“I had arrived here at 9am taking leave from my school and stayed in line but only at 12:30pm hospital officials started distributing vaccination cards and when my turn came officials said the hospital had run out of the cards,” Panday, a school teacher, said on Thursday.
The hospital in its announcement had said the vaccination drive was being held on Thursday from 10am to 4pm, for the 18-59 age group, but it didn’t say anything about the quota it had of the number of people it would vaccinate.
“Now I can’t go to school, as I had taken leave, and I am told that today is the last day for vaccination,” said Panday.
It was not just Panday who did not get the vaccine. Many people who had waited for over four hours in the morning rain and the scorching sun were turned away.
Prabesh Paudyal, 37, was shouting at the big crowd for not getting his turn even after waiting in the queue for over four hours.
“They should have informed us or should have registered our names before we stood in line,” said Paudyal, who came from Samakhusi.
“Now I am afraid that I may have got infected with the coronavirus, as the crowd was too big and unmanaged,” he said. “This is gross negligence by the government.”
He even complained that those who had their links with hospital administration were allowed to get inside without getting a pass or standing in line.
The government began vaccinating people with the 800,000 doses of the BBIBP-CorV vaccine that China provided in a grant from April 7.
According to the data provided by the Health Ministry, over 100,000 people had been vaccinated till April 18 from 23 vaccination centres.
Over 1.9 million people had received Covid-19 vaccine up to Sunday including over 100,000 Chinese shots. Data after Sunday was not immediately available.
Nepal had begun its vaccination campaign on January 27 with Covishield (Oxford/AstraZeneca) vaccine manufactured in India.
The government reduced the number of centres after Sunday. The Chinese vaccine was administered from five centres in the Kathmandu Valley—APF Hospital, Janamaitri Hospital, Chhetrapati Free Clinic and Iwamura Memorial Hospital, Bhaktapur besides Alka Hospital—on Thursday.
When the Post contacted the administration of Alka Hospital it said that it only provided the venue and was not responsible for crowd management.
“The chief district office asked for the venue. The storing and the distribution of the vaccine is being done by the district administration office under the supervision of District Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre,” said Prakash Dhungana, media coordinator of Alka Hospital. “Ours is the only hospital to administer the vaccine in the district and that could be the main reason for the big crowd on Thursday, which was also the last day of vaccination.”
He further said that if the district administration office asks it to open for more days, it will continue the vaccination drive.
There has been widespread criticism of the government on social media about the mismanagement of the government as the result of which there have been big crowds despite the country being gripped by the second wave of Covid-19.
“This is bad management#alkahospital If anything, this will end up becoming a super spreader event than a vaccination drive,” tweeted Smriti Basnet.
Amid a sharp rise in new cases of the new virant of Covid-19, the Cabinet on Monday announced a slew of restrictions where it had announced restricting more than 25 people at one place. But at Bhanimandal on Thursday, there were hundreds.
The country on Thursday saw five Covid-19 related fatalities with 2,365 new cases. The Kathmandu Valley recorded 1,874 new infections in the past 24 hours, of which 987 cases were reported in Kathmandu, 106 in Lalitpur and 81 in Bhaktapur.
“People kept on joining the crowd, as everyone wanted to get the vaccine. We failed to control them,” said a security guard at Alka Hospital.
Meanwhile, the chief of the National Immunisation Programme, rather than making provisions for more vaccination centres to limit crowding, said that the existing ones could be closed.
“How can a hospital immunise so many people with its limited number of staff?" said Dr Jhalak Sharma Gautam. "If we continue to see crowds like at Alka Hospital, we will be forced to stop vaccine distribution."