Sudurpaschim sees steady rise in coronavirus cases but hospitals do not have enough bedsAccording to Sudurpaschim Health Directorate, sub-regional hospitals, district hospitals and primary health centres in Sudurpaschim Province have a combined capacity of 180 isolation beds.
On Tuesday, five people infected of Covid-19 at a quarantine facility in Gauriganga Municipality, Kailali, were taken to the Dhangadhi-based Seti Provincial Hospital. But the hospital did not admit the infected people, citing lack of beds.
“We were at a loss on what to do when the hospital said it didn’t have beds to accommodate the Covid-19 patients,” said Bhim Bahadur Deuba, mayor of Gauriganga Municipality. “But thankfully, the birthing centre at Ward No. 4 of the municipality made arrangements to keep the patients at one of its wards.”
But Deuba said he is worried since the number of Covid-19 patients is increasing by the day.
“It’s tough to find beds to accommodate coronavirus patients at the provincial hospital,” he said. “We don’t know if we will be able to make arrangements for more patients in the municipality.”
The federal government has declared Seti Provincial Hospital as a refer centre in Sudurpaschim Province wherein other hospitals in the province can send patients to Seti.
Dr Hemraj Pandey, medical superintendent at the Seti Provincial Hospital, said the hospital had set-up a 24-bed isolation ward for coronavirus patients.
“Currently, there are 25 patients, including a mother and her son who have been kept in the same bed, in the isolation ward. We are not in a condition to admit more patients since all the beds are occupied,” he said. “That’s why we had to send the new patients away.”
According to Sudurpaschim Health Directorate, sub-regional hospitals, district hospitals and primary health centres in Sudurpaschim Province have a combined capacity of 180 isolation beds.
The 10-bed isolation ward in Mahakali Hospital is occupied whereas the 12-bed isolation facility in Tikapur Hospital is also full. The situation of other hospitals and isolation facilities across the province is similar.
The proposed Coronavirus Hospital in Dhangadhi, which was handed over to the Seti Provincial Hospital by the provincial government, is yet to come into operation. The government had invested Rs 10 million to establish the 50-bed hospital.
“The hospital has not come into operation due to a lack of essential medical equipment,” Pandey said. The hospital does not have generators, nursing stations, drinking water facilities, and CCTV cameras, among other essentials. “But the hospital should be fully functional and operational by Friday,” said Pandey.
Sudurpaschim Province is reporting an average of 20 to 25 Covid-19 cases on a daily basis. Seventy-eight Covid-19 cases have been reported in the province as of Wednesday. Dr Gunaraj Awasthi, director at the Sudurpaschim Health Directorate, said the local units should set up isolation wards to solve the problem of bed shortage.
“The number of coronavirus patients is increasing by the day but there aren’t enough beds in the isolation wards of Sudurpaschim Province’s government hospitals,” he said. “In this situation, only critical cases have to be admitted to the hospitals. Asymptomatic patients can be kept in their own houses or at the isolation facility set up by the local units.”
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.