Coronavirus infected patients sent home to self-isolate as Parsa’s Covid hospital exceeds its bed capacityAll 50 beds in Gandak Hospital are occupied, which has led the hospital to send 26 infected patients home to self-isolate.
As many as 26 coronavirus infected people in Parsa have been sent home to self-isolate after Gandak Hospital, the only Covid-19 treatment facility in the district, exceeded its bed capacity.
Seventeen other patients have been kept at isolation wards in four different quarantine facilities in Birgunj, Parsagadhi, Sakhuwaprasauni and Thori.
The Birgunj-based hospital is overwhelmed after a sudden spike in the number of coronavirus patients in recent days, according to the hospital.
“We are unable to admit new patients. We are currently treating 58 coronavirus patients,” said Dr Udaya Narayan Singh, the coordinator of the hospital.
There is an increased risk of coronavirus spreading in communities if the patients who have been self-isolating at their homes are not careful, Singh warned.
“We know that a lot of the patients may not be able to practice self-isolation in its true sense,” said Singh. “For patients who live in small homes, there is an increased risk of them infecting their immediate family members who, in turn, could infect the people in their communities.”
The hospital has exceeded its 50-bed capacity and so have other quarantine centres.
Singh said they had no option but to tell the patients to observe self-isolation at their homes.
Meanwhile, the hospital authority is also dealing with the challenge of preventing the infection among the staff and other patients.
“A doctor, a junior health worker and a maintenance staff have already contracted the infection while many non-Covid patients have recently developed symptoms like breathing difficulty, sore throat, body ache, fever and diarrhoea,” said Singh.
Health officials have said the district needs to expand its treatment and quarantine facilities in order to stem the spread of the virus.
An isolation ward set up by the Nepal Army at a school building in Birgunj about a month ago has not come into operation as it still lacks proper infrastructure, medical equipment and human resources.
“The isolation ward cannot be run in its current state,” said Singh.
After Birgunj metropolis saw a spike in the number of coronavirus cases, the district administration has imposed a prohibitory order in the city for an indefinite period from Saturday. However, many people doubt that the infection rate is going down by restricting public mobility when coronavirus infected patients are being sent home to self-isolate.
“The infected individuals have already come in contact with their families and the family members have met with people outside their immediate circle,” said Hari Panta, a resident of Birgunj.
The office of Birgunj metropolis, however, claims that the situation in the city is under control. Mayor Bijaya Kumar Sarawagi said that the city office has been coordinating with other government agencies in the fight against Covid-19.
“We plan to conduct polymerase chain reaction tests of at least one member of every family in Birgunj. We will be covering around 50,000 households in the city,” said Sarawagi.
As for the infected patients being sent home to self-isolate, the mayor said his office has entrusted the responsibility of treating the patients visiting Gandak Hospital to Narayani Hospital administration some three months ago.
“The administrations of these two hospitals should seek solutions to accommodate the patients, instead of asking patients to self-isolate at home. The mayor’s office cannot make a decision regarding the number of beds in hospital,” said Sarawagi.
Dr Madan Kumar Upadhyay, medical superintendent at Narayani Hospital, does not agree with the mayor.
“Gandak Hospital does not have the kind of infrastructure that will allow us to increase the bed capacity .The local government should set up more isolation wards in quarantine centres to ease the burden on the hospital. They could also set up other hospitals in the city to accommodate more Covid-19 patients,” he said.
According to Lalit Kumar Basnet, the assistant chief district officer of Parsa, the number of Covid-19 patients staying in quarantine facilities and those self-isolating at home has reached 43 in the past one week.
“We have asked some infected people to self-isolate at home. In the meantime, we are also preparing to use Narayani Hospital and National Medical College to treat Covid-19 patients,” he said.
A total of eight people—four from Parsa and four from other districts—have succumbed to Covid-19 in Birgunj so far. Parsa, a central Tarai district in Province 2, has 291 positive cases as of Tuesday.