TAKING into consideration the fast spreading second wave of the coronavirus, which has already claimed more than three thousand lives and infected over 343,000 persons in Nepal, the government has sought international support to fight the pandemic. In an address to the nation on Monday, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli called on Nepal’s neighbours, friendly countries and international agencies to extend support to fight the virus contagion. As the Prime Minister pointed out, the COVID-19 is the common enemy of the entire global community and so, the nations need to make concerted and collaborated efforts for a winning battle against the virus. We live in an inter-connected global village today which requires close contacts, interactions and movement of people all over the world. But this connectedness has posed a challenge during this pandemic because this builds an easy channel for the quick spread of the virus.
As the need to protect lives is a matter of supreme concern during this time of pandemic, some sacrifice has to be made by avoiding person to person contacts to break the chain of virus transmission. At the same time medical facilities have to be expanded and bolstered to save the lives of those who are already infected and have fallen ill. Prime Minister Oli has sought to address this issue in this holistic perspective. The Prime Minister has placed due emphasis on expanding health infrastructure, well-equipped medical facilities, revamping medical manpower and putting in place preventing measures to save lives from the virus. COVID-19 infections and fatalities have surged dramatically within a short span of time recently. The number of people getting infected has been increasing every other day. Every measure at our disposal should be taken to break the chain of transmission and provide treatment to those who have developed severe symptoms.
We need to take steps before it is too late and learn lessons from India where the situation has become quite alarming. Unless we are able to make our prevention and control measures effective, we will face critical deficit of hospital beds, health personnel, supply of medical oxygen, intensive care units and ventilator facilities. In this regard, the Prime Minister has directed the Nepali Army to build temporary hospitals in the capital and provinces with total capacity of 1,000 beds. Oxygen production plants will be set up in major hospitals and medical colleges. Production of oxygen will also be maximised by re-opening the oxygen plants that have closed. Use of oxygen will be concentrated to medical purpose now and if it is being used for other purposes that will be stopped.
Similarly, export of liquid oxygen will be banned. The scenario of Banke district in west Nepal points to the severity of the COVID-19 crisis, with the acute shortage of hospital beds and medical manpower. Dozens of infected medical staff are reported to be treating the COVID-19 patients. To address such deficit of medical manpower, the Prime Minister has announced that retired doctors and other health workers will be hired for one year on contract basis. COVID-19 dedicated wards are going to be added in major hospitals too. The widely admired vaccination programme of the government may have been somewhat affected by the restriction orders and shortage of vaccine doses. The anti-corona inoculation drive should resume as soon as possible so as keeping Nepali people strong and immune to the virus.