The Nepali government on Friday asked hospitals to get health facilities ready for children, saying they are more vulnerable to a potential third or fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Health and Population issued a notice, saying the current arrangement of health facilities is focusing on helping the adults as the first and second wave of the epidemic have affected this group badly, the Xinhua news agency reported.

“As there is the possibility of third and fourth wave of Covid-19 and children might be affected badly, hospitals are requested to arrange at least 20 per cent of their approved beds for children,” the ministry said. It also asked hospitals to make oxygen available for children.

“At least some adults have been vaccinated and have certain protection from Covid-19, but children aged below 18 are more vulnerable due to a lack of vaccination,” said Krishna Prasad Paudel, a ministry spokesman.

Of Nepal’s total population of some 30 million, around 40 per cent are below 18 years old, according to government record.

Nepal’s health facilities had been pushed to their limit after a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections hit the South Asian country in early April and some hospitals had to turn away patients due to a lack of medical oxygen and beds, as 8,000-9,000 new cases were recorded in most days in May.

The number of Covid-19 cases in the country has largely come down below 5,000 for the last week, according to the Health Ministry.

On Friday the ministry reported 4,624 new cases and 101 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total confirmed infections to 581,560 and the death toll to 7,731 in the country.

–IANS

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