WITH an unexpected surge in the number of COVID-19 infections in the urban centres of Nepal, including the Kathmandu Valley, the demand for hospital beds with oxygen and ventilator support has been increasing over the past few weeks. About 15 per cent of the total patients infected with the new variants of COVID-19 require oxygen support. But it is sad to note that most of the hospitals are reported to have been unable to provide beds to new patients suffering from the virus. This has forced even the patients in severe condition to stay in home isolations. And handy oxygen cylinders have not been available in the market. So, more such patients have been dying in home isolations in the absence of life-saving oxygen. The loved ones of the dead have now been facing a tough time to manage the bodies of those losing their lives in home isolations. The government has assigned the Nepali Army (NA) to cremate the all the bodies of COVID-19 patients to help prevent a further transmission of the lethal virus disease. And the process is not so easy. The NA teams will lift the bodies only after the bereaved families produce PCR positive reports as well as other supporting documents from the concerned ward offices. Besides, there has also been an acute shortage of healthcare professionals across the country. Keeping this situation into serious consideration, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has initiated the process of hiring fresh health workers. The NA has also urged its retired health workers to remain standby to take up the responsibility of taking care of the COVID-19 patients in this critical juncture. Meanwhile, the government has accorded high priority to making available more oxygen cylinders to hospitals across the country to address the crunch of oxygen. According to a news report carried by this daily on Monday, the government has disclosed that a total of 27,761 oxygen cylinders are now available throughout the country. In a press statement issued on Sunday, the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) said that the government was serious about managing oxygen and other life-saving medicines to save people's lives. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) provides daily details of the collection of oxygen cylinders from different factories, garages and industries. The government is also in the process of bringing in some 20,000 oxygen cylinders from China to meet the ever increasing demand. Last week, the police administration seized thousands of oxygen cylinders from different locations of the Kathmandu Valley. Those cylinders were found being hidden by traders. The number of hospitals treating the COVID-19 patients in the country has now increased to 505 from 493, as per the OPMCM. These hospitals have 20,364 beds. The numbers of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and ventilators have also gone up to 1,817 and 736. Similarly, the country has now 2,877 high dependency units (HDUs). These units are located close to an ICU. Patients in these units get more extensive care than they receive in a normal ward. But it is not so easy to manage such facilities for all the patients in this critical time when COVID-19 infections have been rising at an alarming rate. Because a large number of COVID-19 patients are still bound to stay in home isolations, the authorities concerned need to work on making oxygen easily available to them.