Demand for oxygen rising in Nepal as Covid cases surge

Demand for oxygen has been rising in Nepal as more and more hospitalised Covid-19 patients are in need of oxygen.

“The majority of the Covid-19 patients admitted at our hospital required the support of bottled oxygen,” Somnath Bastola, senior manager (corporate communication and public relation department) of Norvic International Hospital said.

According to him, over 30 patients have been admitted at the Norvic and the hospital planned to increase beds for coronavirus patients amid surging numbers of such patients, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Nepal’s former Queen Komal Shah is getting treatment at Kathmandu-based Norvic International Hospital at an intensive care unit (ICU) fighting the Covid-19 for the last few days.

As treatment with plasma therapy could not bring the desired result, she was moved to ICU and she has been kept there on high flow oxygen support, Bastola told Xinhua on Sunday.

e former queen and her husband former King Gyanendra Shah were tested positive following their return from a trip to India in late April. Their daughter Prerana is also receiving treatment in the same hospital for Covid-19.

Former Nepali Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal, who was admitted at the Norvic hospital on Saturday, is also getting treatment along with the support of bottled oxygen, according to Bastola.

Many other hospitals in Kathmandu have also reported that they are running out of beds for the surging inflow of coronavirus patients, and the majority of the patients required oxygen support from outside.

Kathmandu-based Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital has admitted 78 patients, exceeding its capacity of 60 as hospitals in Kathmandu are overwhelmed.

“The situation of almost all patients is serious and all of the Covid-19 patients admitted at our hospital have required extra oxygen from outside for their survival,” said Sagar Kumar Rajbhandari, director of the hospital, on Saturday.

Hospitals in Kathmandu are not admitting patients who are not in serious condition and don’t need bottled oxygen with the hospitals running out of beds. “We have been suggesting the non-serious patients stay at home in isolation,” said Rajbhandari.

Kathmandu-based Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital has 144 beds occupied by patients and 21 of them are receiving treatment at ICUs. “All the ICU beds and oxygen beds are currently occupied by Covid-19 patients. Around 90 per cent of coronavirus patients have been provided bottled oxygen,” Shanta Kumar Das, coordinator of Covid-19 Management Committee at the hospital, which is one of the largest state-run hospitals in the country.

Unlike the first wave of coronavirus observed last year, the second wave that is engulfing Nepal has turned out to be more infectious and dangerous. More people, mostly the younger age, have been infected badly and many of them have required bottled oxygen for survival, officials and doctors said.

Due to the increasing severe patients, demands for bottled oxygen have been rising rapidly, according to oxygen manufacturers.

“At the moment, we are in the position to supply oxygen as per the demand of the market provided the oxygen cylinders are not hoarded by the hospitals after getting supply,” said Shankar Lal Agrawal, Managing Director at Shankar Oxygen Gas Private Limited, a Kathmandu-based oxygen plant.

He is operating his oxygen plant 24 hours a day for the last few days compared with 10 hours a day before. “Amid the increasing demands from hospitals, we have stopped supplying oxygen to the industries and diverted them to the hospitals,” said Agrawal.

Considering the potential shortage of oxygen, the Nepali government has asked the private oxygen plants to import oxygen cylinders while offering them exemption of taxes including customs duty, excise duty and value-added tax.