Authorities scramble to manage hospitals as Covid-19 cases surge in Karnali ProvinceHealth officials say the current health infrastructure of the province will be overwhelmed if the caseload keeps increasing.
One hundred and four individuals tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours in Karnali Province, according to the data of the Provincial Health Directorate.
On Wednesday, out of 88 swab samples collected by Surkhet-based public health laboratory, 86 tested positive for coronavirus. According to the Provincial Health Directorate, this is Karnali’s highest daily infection number in six months.
Until Thursday, there were 212 active cases in Karnali, the record of the Provincial Health Directorate showed with 199 active cases in Surkhet alone.
Health officials say the current health infrastructure of the province will be overwhelmed if the caseload keeps increasing. Dr KN Paudel, the focal person of Corona Special Hospital in Surkhet, says the number of critical patients in need of supplemental oxygen and ventilator support is increasing by the day. “Thirteen Covid-19 patients are currently receiving treatment at the hospital. Among them, 12 are on oxygen support,” said Paudel. “There are 25 ICU beds at the hospital. Our health infrastructure and human resources will not be able to handle a large number of patients.”
According to Paudel, the provincial government plans to add 50 more beds at the hospital but without additional supply of medical oxygen, it may be of little help.
“It is beyond our capacity to enhance the supply of oxygen. We will have to depend on other hospitals for additional supply of oxygen if we run out of stock.”
On Monday, a meeting of the Provincial Health Directorate Committee decided to install 200 isolation beds at Karnali Provincial Hospital and Jumla-based Karnali Academy of Health Sciences and 25 isolation beds in each district hospital.
“The health directorate has been working to manage necessary medical equipment and other physical infrastructures in the province,” Dr Rabin Khadka, director of the Provincial Health Directorate, said.
According to the Provincial Health Directorate, there are a total of 34 ventilators and 62 ICU beds in various hospitals of the province.
The steady stream of new arrivals in the province of late has increased the risk of rapid spread of Covid-19 in the province which could overwhelm the fragile health infrastructure of the province, experts say.
In the last month, around 5,000 people arrived in Karnali from various parts of India after the start of the second wave infection there.
“We have requested newcomers to stay in home quarantine. But most are found flouting basic health safety standards proposed by the government,” Chetan Nidhi Wagle, chief at the District Public Health Office in Surkhet, said.
According to Khadka at the Provincial Health Directorate, there are only 1,906 beds available at quarantine facilities in 76 different places in the province. This is a sharp decline from last year’s 41,956 beds in quarantine facilities established in 891 places.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the municipal-based Covid-19 Control and Prevention Coordination Committee held in Birendranagar Municipality on Wednesday decided to upgrade Katakuwa Health Post in Birendranagr into a 100-bed Covid-19 hospital.
“The risk of Covid-19 spread has increased in Birendranagar in recent days. This is why we are preparing to turn Katakuwa health post into a Covid-19 hospital.”
The Covid-19 death toll in Karnali reached 33 after a woman from Rukum (West) died of Covid-19. She had returned to the district a few days ago.