Province 2 does not have enough beds for surging number of Covid patientsThe provincial government has declared its plan to add 500 beds across hospitals in the province to accommodate the increasing number of coronavirus patients.
The Province 2 government has decided to add 500 more beds in its isolation facilities to facilitate the treatment of Covid-19 patients in the province. A growing number of coronavirus patients in Province 2 are being sent home to self-isolate for a lack of resources in hospitals, but the move has proved ineffective in curbing the spread of the virus.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister of Province 2 Lal Babu Raut called a meeting in Janakpur and informed of his government’s plan to add more beds in hospitals specified for coronavirus treatment.
According to the Ministry of Social Development, there are a total of 2,449 isolation beds in the province. Among them, 680 are occupied as of Tuesday.
The existing Covid-19 hospitals in the province are operating with limited facilities. Janakpur Provincial Hospital, Narayani Hospital in Birgunj and Gajendra Narayan Singh Hospital in Rajbiraj have isolation centres but are not well equipped to deal with the pandemic, said Dr Ranjit Kumar Jha, the medical superintendent at Gajendra Narayan Singh Hospital in Rajbiraj.
“Regular hospital services have been affected due to the increase in the number of coronavirus patients in the past few days,” he said. “We have to provide both general health services and treat Covid-infected with limited resources. The hospital is stretched thin.”
On July 26, 209 swabs were collected from Mina Bazaar in Ward No. 11 of Birgunj Metropolis as a part of a mass tracing campaign. Out of the collected swab samples tested at the laboratory of Narayani Hospital, 32 tested positive for coronavirus on July 30. But a majority of infected people in Mina Bazaar have been asked to stay home for a lack of hospital beds.
According to locals, the Covid-infected individuals haven’t been observing home quarantine as instructed by the authorities. Shatrudhan Sah, a local of Mina bazaar, said, “We have informed the medical superintendent of Narayani Hospital about the carelessness of Covid-infected individuals. The medical superintendent agreed with us that the metropolis should manage isolation or quarantine centres to accommodate all infected people. But coronavirus patients are still being sent home to self-isolate.”
Dhurba Nepal, ward chairman of Mina Bazaar, said the ward does not have the data on the number of Covid-infected individuals on home quarantine.
In Birgunj Ward No. 11, swab samples of 252 individuals were collected on July 30. Among them, 75 tested positive for coronavirus this week. Twelve of the 75 infected individuals have been sent home to self-isolate. Pradhumna Sedhai, the ward chairman, said, “We are coordinating with hospitals and the local administration to move the patients to isolation centres so as to remove them from the community until they recover.”
In Parsa, 24 Covid-infected individuals are kept at isolation wards in Siddhartha School, 15 in Trijudda School and 12 in the isolation unit of Birgunj Prison. Lalit Kumar Basnet, the assistant chief district officer of Parsa, said the local administration has been preparing to set up a separate Covid Hospital in Parsa after home isolation proved ineffective in curbing the spread of the virus.
“Home isolation and some of the community isolation centres are not safe. That is why we are preparing to set up a separate hospital,” Basnet said. Until Tuesday, out of 3,000 swabs collected in Parsa, 607 have tested positive for coronavirus.
The data of the Ministry of Social Development showed that 5,045 swab samples have tested positive for coronavirus in Province 2 as of Tuesday. Among them, 19 died and 3,211 individuals have been discharged from various isolation centres and health facilities in the province. According to the ministry’s data, 62,288 swab samples have been collected for PCR testing until Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Minister of Internal Affairs and Law Gyanendra Kumar Yadav said the provincial government has introduced a new strategy to control the spread of coronavirus in the province.
“The infection rate has increased in various districts of the province after the lockdown was lifted. We have to work together to stop the further spread of the virus,” said Yadav, in a Covid-19 Prevention Programme organised at Bardibas on Tuesday.
Santosh Singh in Dhanusha, Bhusan Yadav in Birgunj, Abdhesh Kumar Jha in Saptari and Sunita Baral in Mahottari contributed reporting.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of September 22, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. Covid-19 has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 31,405,983 people with 967,505 deaths and 22,990,260 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,557,573 with 88,943 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 306,304 confirmed cases with 6,420 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 65,276 cases with 427 deaths.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.