Covid-19 patients sharing beds at Narayani HospitalThe hospital is struggling to cope with the surge in cases due to a shortage of beds and other necessary supporting infrastructure.
The scene at Narayani Hospital on Monday was grim with upto three Covid-19 patients languishing in one bed. The Birgunj-based hospital in Parsa district is struggling to cope with the steady flow of coronavirus patients in light of a shortage of beds and other necessary supporting infrastructure.
The hospital has divided the Emergency Department into two sections—one is for non-Covid emergency cases and the other is an isolation ward dedicated to the treatment of coronavirus patients.
“Both the sections are now overwhelmed with coronavirus patients,” said Dr Saroj Das. “All 49 beds at the hospital are occupied by Covid-19 patients and all of them are on supplemental oxygen.”
According to him, the hospital has not admitted any asymptomatic patients.
“The coronavirus situation in Birgunj is turning critical. New cases with severe symptoms are being brought to the hospital every day,” Dr Niraj Kumar Singh, a senior physician at the hospital, told the Post. “Authorities should have prohibited public movement in Birgunj and its vicinity a long time ago. A strict lockdown must be imposed immediately to prevent the further spread of the virus.”
According to Singh, the hospital has been using 50 large oxygen cylinders every day for the treatment of coronavirus patients. “I’m getting calls from coronavirus patients and their relatives asking for beds at the hospital,” he said. “The hospital has already taken patients beyond its capacity.”
The hospital has also set up a 48-bed isolation ward to accommodate the rising number of Covid-19 patients.
“However, the hospital does not have enough health workers for the smooth operation of the new ward,” said Das. “The District Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre has said it will deploy more health workers for the new isolation ward.”
On April 11, the meeting of the District Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre suggested turning Baba Hospital, managed by National Medical College, into a temporary Covid-19 hospital. The crisis management centre has put in a request to the Ministry of Health and Population for the same.
“We have already notified the ministry on the matter. But we have not received any response yet,” said Bhimkant Paudel, assistant chief district officer of Parsa.
In the past two weeks, 835 individuals tested positive for the coronavirus in Narayani Hospital alone.
Meanwhile, the number of people entering Nepal from India through the Birgunj customs point has not decreased.
Eight people entering Nepal from the customs point tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday. According to Mahammad Sainullaha Hawari, a health assistant deployed along the Nepal-India border in Birgunj, eight out of 40 people who underwent antigen tests at the health desk set up in the border point were diagnosed with the virus.
“The infected people are Indian nationals from various places of Bihar. They were sent back to India from the border point,” said Hawari. According to him, health officials at the border health desk have conducted antigen tests of around 1,100 people entering Nepal since April 5.
“As many as 77 of them have tested positive for Covid-19 since then. Of them, 70 are Indian nationals,” said Hawari.
Health workers and security personnel deployed at the border area have called for strict border control in light of many infected Indian nationals crossing into Nepal.
“It will be difficult to control the spread of the virus if we keep our borders open. There is no alternative to sealing the border immediately,” said Hawari.
Hundreds of Nepali migrant workers and Indian nationals enter Nepal from Birgunj customs point every day. Most of the Indian nationals come to Birgunj to get their eyes treated. There are around half a dozen eye hospitals in Birgunj Metropolis. People from several towns and villages near the Nepal-India border come to Birgunj, as eye treatment is cheaper and reliable on this side of the border.
Health workers deployed at the border estimate that around 20,000 people enter Nepal through the Birgunj border point on foot every day. But the border health desk conducts health examinations of around 300 entrants only for they have limited resources. The health desk does not examine people crossing the border on vehicles.
Two health workers, two auxiliary health workers and two lab technicians have been deployed in the health desk at Birgunj border point, said Hawari.