Mugu ill-equipped to deal with increasing Covid-19 casesHealth workers say the authorities’ negligence in not running tests on returnees has resulted in the transmission of virus at the community level.
Health workers in Mugu, one of the mountain districts in Karnali Province, say they are facing challenges in treating Covid-19 patients amid a surge in coronavirus cases at the community level.
According to the District Health Office in Mugu, 60 individuals tested positive for Covid-19 in the district in the last two weeks.
Fifteen days ago, Mugu was identified as a green zone, as there were no confirmed cases of Covid-19.
According to the District Health Office, the rate of infection has escalated along with the increase in the number of people returning to the district from outside. At least five individuals are testing positive for the coronavirus on a daily basis in the district, the data of the office showed.
Health workers say the authorities’ negligence in not running tests on returnees has resulted in the transmission of virus at the community level.
“Returnees entered villages directly without undergoing coronavirus tests,” Dr Bir Paudel of the District Hospital in Mugu told the Post. “There should have been mandatory testing at the district’s entry points. Now the virus has reached even far-flung villages.”
The number of Covid-19 cases in the district will be higher if mass testing is conducted at the community level, Paudel says. “These days we are only testing swab samples of Covid-19 suspects. If the testing is expanded to the community level, there will be even more Covid-19 patients,” he said.
Currently, three Covid-19 patients are receiving treatment at the Intensive Care Unit of the District Hospital. The remaining 57 patients are staying in home isolation.
“We have deployed a team of health workers to provide consultations to patients in home isolation,” said Paudel. “All Covid-19 patients at the hospital are on oxygen support. Soon we will not be able to take in any more patients because the current oxygen supply will not be enough.”
The District Hospital has only three oxygen cylinders.
Similarly, the Ratapani Primary Health Centre in Khatyad has just one oxygen cylinder. All Covid-19 patients are advised to stay in home isolation. Seven people tested positive for Covid-19 in Khatyad over the past few days.
None of the health institutions in Mugu has a PCR machine, which has created another hurdle in testing, tracing and treating Covid-19 patients in the district.
According to Gyan Singh Budha, the acting chief at the District Health Service Office, the swab samples collected from Covid-19 suspects in Mugu are sent to the Karnali Academy of Health Sciences in Jumla or the Surkhet-based Karnali Provincial Hospital for PCR tests. “We have to wait for at least two days for our swab samples to get tested. So we have to depend on antigen tests,” said Budha.
The District Health Office says even the antigen test kits are in short supply so they are conducting tests on suspected cases only.
“The number of Covid-19 cases is increasing but the hospital does not have a ventilator or sufficient oxygen supply. Health workers are concerned, as the hospital lacks equipment and medicines,” said Budha.
Following repeated requests, the Karnali provincial government on Tuesday sent equipment to install an oxygen plant in Mugu. According to Budha, the plant will start producing oxygen within two to three days.
Amid increasing infections, the district administration office in Mugu has imposed prohibitory orders for the past week.