Amid Covid surge, officials project a peak by August-end urging all to be cautiousMinistry of Health and Population says it has directed health facilities across the country to remain alert in view of possible rise in infections and hospitalisations.
With the surge in new cases of Covid-19 of late, the Patan Hospital administration said it has been working to expand bed numbers for the infected patients.
As all general and intensive care unit beds allocated for infected patients have been occupied, officials said they have to allocate more beds to address the growing demands.
“Almost all beds allocated for Covid patients have already been occupied,” said Dr Ravi Shakya, director at the Hospital. “Most of the patients admitted in our hospital are moderate and severe cases. We will allocate more beds within the next couple of days.”
Amid the fourth wave of the Covid pandemic triggered by the BA.5 sub variant of Omicron, a number of new cases have been rising along with serious cases. And what concerns the public health experts is no one is bothered about the surging serious cases.
“Two infected people died at our hospital last week,” said Shakya. “Those with compromised immunity including people with heart conditions, renal patients, cancer patients and those suffering from other diseases are getting severe.”
Daily test positivity rate of polymerase chain reaction tests is ranging between 30 and 50 percent, according to the hospital administration.
Officials at the Ministry of Health and Population said that they expect a rise in new cases until the end of August. Along with the new infection, they said that hospitalisations and deaths could go up in coming weeks.
“Spread of the infection of the new sub variant of Omicron is in an upward trend at present,” said an official at the Health Ministry, asking not to be named. “As per our projection, new cases will go up until the end of August and there will be a rise in hospitalisations and deaths in the coming weeks.”
On Wednesday, 915 people tested positive for Covid-19—590 in 3,091 polymerase chain reaction tests and 325 in 2,911 antigen tests—throughout the country. Of the total infected people, 40 are under 20 years old. There are 3,105 active cases in Kathmandu, 603 in Lalitpur and 62 in Bhaktapur districts.
The Health Ministry said that 43 patients in serious conditions have been admitted to intensive care units and two patients in critical conditions have been placed on ventilators.
The ministry has already confirmed infections by the BA.5 sub variant of the Omicron variant, and of late, multiple new sub-variants of Omicron—BA.5, BA.5.2. BA.2.75. BA.2.73, BA.2.12.1, BA.2.38, and BF.1—have been detected in swab samples of the infected people.
BA.5 sub variants have become the dominant variant in many countries including in the United States.
“Covid-19 infection is in an upward trend and we expect this to continue for some time,” said Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson for the Health Ministry.
He concedes that the ministry has made some estimation about Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations in the fourth wave, but refused to divulge the number.
“The reality is infection is spreading in communities and the number of infected people is more than the number identified from testing, as many infected people have not undergone tests,” said Adhikari.
Public health experts say that the actual number of the Covid infection could be several times more than the number identified by the daily testing. They warn that new virus variants could emerge within the country, due to complacency in all sectors.
“At present no one is bothering to break the chain of infection and the virus has been spreading rampantly in communities,” said Dr Rajiv Shrestha, an infectious disease expert at the Dhulikhel Hospital. “People have been behaving as if there is no fourth wave and the infection is a hoax created by some media and doctors. This is a dangerous trend.”
Despite a surge in new cases, authorities concerned do not think it necessary to increase testing, start contact tracing, keeping the suspects in quarantine and infected people into mandatory isolation. No agency is monitoring the condition of the infected people and their movement.
“Even the infected people do not feel necessary to inform others about their infection status, which is too serious,” said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, chief of the Clinical Research Unit at the Sukraraj Tropical and infectious Disease Hospital. “Unvaccinated population and those with compromised immunity could get severe from Covid infection.”
As the authorities concerned have not been doing substantial to break the chain of infection, doctors suggest the general public to strictly follow Covid safety protocol.