Private hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley have stopped admitting new COVID patients as they have run out of oxygen after the government set quotas for oxygen management.
Some hospitals have even asked admitted COVID patients in need of oxygen to transfer elsewhere as they have run out of oxygen.
Nepal Medical College, Nepal Medicity Hospital, Om Hospital, Medicare, Helping Hands, and Bharat Maitri are some private hospitals that have issued statements saying that they cannot take new patients due to lack of oxygen.
Government hospitals, meanwhile, have run out of beds and ICUs for COVID patients, and people can be seen getting treatment in hospital corridors and compounds.
Apart from COVID-infected ones, patients who need to undergo surgery, asthma patients, cancer patients and sufferers of other ailments have been deprived of necessary medical oxygen.
Nepal recorded 225 COVID-related deaths and 9,317 new cases of coronavirus infection were recorded in the country on Tuesday alone.
Due to the rapid spread of the new variant, the number of infected people in the second wave has skyrocketed in a short period of time.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, the number of infected people has risen from 1,900 to 97,000 in the last 45 days.
As of Tuesday, 89,914 people are in home isolation and 7,094 are in institutional isolation. As the number of people being hospitalized increases, so does the demand for oxygen.
The Ministry of Health, however, issued a circular to the oxygen industries on May 8 instructing them to provide medical oxygen to hospitals only with the Ministry’s recommendation.
Immediately after the instruction, the COVID-19 Crisis Management Center started fixing quotas for oxygen cylinders to be given to hospitals on the basis of ICU beds.
Private hospitals, large and small, have started announcing that they cannot admit COVID patients, saying they had received too little oxygen through the quota as opposed to the high demand.
According to Health Secretary Laxman Aryal, there is a daily demand of 14,000-15,000 oxygen cylinders in the Kathmandu Valley.
Samir Kumar Adhikari, assistant spokesperson of the Health Ministry said, “We need about 25,000 oxygen cylinders immediately to save people from dying. This is our urgent need”.
While the industries in the Valley produce only about 8,000 cylinders worth of oxygen daily, the oxygen plants in various hospitals can produce 2,000 cylinders.
There are barely around 32 oxygen industries throughout the country in Nepal. With the exception of large industries, the maximum daily oxygen production capacity is around 300 cylinders.
Nepal has only 1,600 intensive care beds and fewer than 600 ventilators for its population of 30 million with just 0.7 doctors per 100,000 people, according to ActionAid Nepal.
Nepal received the first batch of assistance, including 400 oxygen concentrators and 10 ventilators, donated by the Chinese government on Tuesday afternoon.
China has pledged to provide 20,000 oxygen cylinders, 20 ventilators and other medical supplies, Health and Population Minister Hridayesh Tripathi said.
More than 170 oxygen concentrators donated by Chinese company Hongshi Shivam Cement also arrived in the consignment of grant assistance.
Similarly, the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) handed over Rs. 20 million worth of health items to Health Minister Tripathi on Tuesday.
The donated items include 200 oxygen concentrators with a capacity of eight liters.