With the rapid rise in COVID-19 infections in Banke, an increased number of local residents have started to stay in home isolation due to shortage of beds at local hospitals.

The Bheri Hospital and Nepal Teaching Hospital in Nepalgunj are running in full capacity and they are struggling for oxygen and ventilators.

Many residents do not get the chance to be tested despite showing symptoms of COVID-19 as hospitals and labs are jam-packed.

The number of deaths occurring due to late testing and living in home isolation without needed medical care is also increasing in Nepalgunj district.

Health workers said that the COVID-19 death toll in the district had skyrocketed of late as infected people came to the hospitals for treatment only when their health issues became serious.

As news regarding hospitals and beds being full circulate, many infected persons hesitate to visit hospitals and stay at home.

Similarly, doctors have also been advising the public to stay home if they have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. COVID patients are advised to visit hospitals only if their health condition turns critical.

“Only those who have serious symptoms come to the hospital, and most of them can only get the PCR test done once they are serious because only seriously symptomatic patients can have access to the test. Some of them undergo PCR only after being admitted to the hospital,” said Prakash Thapa, a doctor at Bheri Hospital.

He added, “Delaying the patients’ treatment while waiting for their test results will definitely add to the problems in their treatment. The situation is really frightening”.

At present, there are 2,366 people in home isolation in Nepalgunj sub-metropolis. The health guideline stipulates that the concerned municipality should mobilize health workers to get information about the health condition of persons living in home isolation.

The sub-metropolis has kept patients with moderate symptoms in isolation at the Hotel White House, while an isolation center with oxygen is in operation at a training center in Ramlila Maidan.

Meanwhile, Ram Bahadur Chand, chief of the local health department, said that the contact persons were gathering information about the health condition of people living in home isolation and were providing counseling from time to time.

“Health workers of the ward office also go house-to-house for follow of people in home isolation and refer those in serious condition to COVID wards,” he said.

As of Monday, 71 people have succumbed to COVID-19 in Nepalgunj. At least 29 people have died of the virus in Kohalpur, 12 in Baijanath and 18 in Khajuraho.