Doctors warn of major COVID-19 surge in Nepal

Doctors warn of major COVID-19 surge in Nepal
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Doctors in Nepal on Friday warned of a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.

Nepal recorded a total of 9,070 newly confirmed cases on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

That's up from a total of 298 that were reported last month. Hospitals across the country are now reportedly beginning to run out of beds and oxygen due to the overwhelming number of new patients.

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Nepal borders India, where coronavirus cases and deaths have shot up, creating one of the biggest COVID-19 crises in the world. The United States on Tuesday restricted travel from India.

“Right now there are no beds available today in any hospital that is treating COVID patients,” said Jyotindra Sharma, chief of Hospital for Advanced Medicine and Surgery in Kathmandu, according to the AP. “Even if any beds were made available, there is a huge scarcity of oxygen and we are not at the peak of this crisis.”

The hospital was forced to cram in extra beds in order to serve patients who have been infected with COVID-19. Those are now reportedly filled and patients have been placed on a waiting list to be seen by doctors.

“In the extreme situation, people could be dying in the streets,” Sharma told AP. "[It’s] just not possible to immediately increase the capacity of the hospitals.”

A local government-operated teaching hospital faced similar resource shortages amid the increasing coronavirus cases in the country. Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital had to turn away patients because there was not enough space to fit all of the equipment needed to treat them in the facility, the AP reported.

“We are under-prepared, under-resourced, and under-capacitated to perform anything that is expected,” Bishal Dhakal, who has been working with coronavirus patients since the beginning of the pandemic, told the news outlet.

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Nepal implemented a nationwide lockdown last month in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. It also ramped up prevention measures this week, stopping domestic and international flights.

The country started its vaccination efforts in January with 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that were donated from India. It was later ended after India halted exports as cases surged in that country.

China has since donated 800,000 vaccine doses to Nepal. It is also in talks with Russia to secure doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, according to the AP.