News Coronavirus Nepal coronavirus crisis appears to mimic India, with outbreaks even on Mt Everest

Nepal coronavirus crisis appears to mimic India, with outbreaks even on Mt Everest

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Nepal is emerging as the next crisis hotspot, mimicking India’s experience with a surge in coronavirus infections that is putting a strain on hospitals, medical experts say.

Doctors in Nepal warned on Friday of a major crisis as daily coronavirus cases hit a record and hospitals were running out of beds and oxygen.

Nepal reported 9070 new confirmed cases on Thursday compared to 298 a month ago.

The number of fatalities also reached its highest with 58 on Wednesday and 54 on Thursday, for a total of 3529.

“Right now there are no beds available today in any hospital that is treating COVID patients,” said Dr Jyotindra Sharma, chief of Hospital for Advanced Medicine & Surgery in Kathmandu.

“Even if any beds were made available, there is a huge scarcity of oxygen and we are not at the peak of this crisis.”

Burning pyres on the banks of Bagmati river in Kathmandu. Photo: Getty

At the hospital, one of the leading facilities in Nepal for treating COVID-19 patients, extra beds were crammed to accommodate more people.

They’ve all been taken and the only way to get admitted is through a waiting list.

“In the extreme situation, people could be dying in the streets,” Sharma said, adding it’s “just not possible to immediately increase the capacity of the hospitals”.

A lockdown was imposed last month in major cities and towns and Nepal this week stopped both domestic and international flights.

Nepal began its vaccination campaign in January with 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca shots donated by India but it had been suspended because of India’s refusal to allow exports as its own crisis worsened.

The vaccination resumed when China donated 800,000 doses and Nepal is negotiating with Russia for supplies of the Sputnik V shots.

Thailand hits virus record

Meanwhile, health authorities in Thailand expressed concern as they announced on Friday that the country’s capital has confirmed a record 869 new coronavirus cases.

The city reported 18 new deaths.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the government’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration, said Bangkok has recorded more than 500 new cases every day since the beginning of this month with no sign of decline.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration announced on Friday night it will extend restrictions that were due to end May 9 until May 17.

They include limiting restaurants to takeaway meals, closing 35 types of venues including bars, gyms, stadiums and boxing rings, and limiting the operating hours of other businesses.

Bangkok currently has 496 patients in critical condition, a number that is straining the capacity of hospitals to provide ICU beds.

Anyone in Thailand who tests positive for the virus, even without symptoms, is supposed to be hospitalised so there is a shortage of hospital beds for non-critical cases as well.

Almost 30,000 patients, including 1170 in critical condition, are in hospitals and field hospitals around the country.

Field hospitals have been established in several cities including Bangkok.

Mr Taweesilp said the government centre is trying to set up a new one in the capital with more than 1000 beds.

Thailand reported 2044 new cases and 27 new deaths on Friday, bringing the total since January last year to 78,855 cases and 363 deaths.

Thailand’s recent coronavirus wave originated in upmarket entertainment venues in Bangkok in late March and has spawned clusters in several crowded slum communities.

Latvia recorded more than 1000 virus cases in a day for the first time since February in a worrying sign as the Baltic country also took another step in relaxing restrictions on public life.

With 1036 cases in the last 24 hours, the health authority in Riga on Friday registered its highest level since February 20.

Starting on Friday, restaurants and cafes were allowed to serve food and drinks outside until 9pm.