Published On: May 6, 2021 05:19 PM NPT By: Sangita Shrestha

Embracing hope during the time of crisis

Embracing hope during the time of crisis

The cases of COVID-19 are soaring and Nepal recorded the highest single-day rise of 8,659 new cases and 58 deaths on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, there are currently 66,352 active cases of COVID-19 across the country. Of them, 61,588 are in home isolation. Similarly, 1,993 COVID-19 patients recovered in the past 24 hours. Likewise, 318 people are in quarantine facilities, 600 in ICUs and 156 on ventilators across the country.

With the hospital and crematoriums swamped with COVID-19 patients and the dead, respectively, the situation during the second wave of COVID-19 already seems to be out of control and this has also shown the vulnerability of the government.

Most patients are fighting for their lives and to support their lives they need medical assistance. Due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, getting supplemental oxygen, ICU rooms, ventilators, plasma and other medical amenities have become difficult. And the prohibitory orders in order to restrict the movement of people and break the chain of transmission at the community level has made it even harder for the public.

Despite the current adverse situation, youngsters on social media are using the digital platforms as a bridge to fill the gap between those who are in need during this crisis and those who can help fulfill their needs. Then, there are some initiatives to flow the information regarding the needed services from the local community and individuals to somewhat ease the current situation.

Use of social media platforms

Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Viber and more are flooded with information on how one can get help for locating ICU rooms in hospitals, plasma donation, oxygen supplies, and ambulance services among others. And hash tags such as #nepalcovidinfox, #nepalcovidsos and more.

Groups in Viber such as Covid-19 Emergency Group (having 2,220 members till Wednesday) and COVID Connect Nepal (691 members till Wednesday) have been giving information related to medical assistance.

These Viber groups were formed immediately after Nepal issued a prohibitory order on April 29 in the Kathmandu Valley. The founders of these groups were being alert looking at the reports of COVID-19 spiking up in unexpected ways in neighboring India. They were sure that this would eventually happen in Nepal too. Prashikkchhya Parajuli, one of the co-founders of the Viber group Covid-19 Emergency Group shared, “I am a Public Health graduate and working in the Government’s Department of Health Services as the data co-coordinator working on the data of vaccination. The news in India terrified me and my friends who were also concerned about what might happen in Nepal if a similar health hazard is to come to Nepal. More alarming fact was India having far better health services than Nepal is going through a crisis, which surely will be impossible for Nepal to manage this health hazard.”

And with the knowledge that networking is the key that might help in the time of crisis, she along with her three friends, all Public Health graduates formed the group.  Parajuli being an avid Twitter user tweeted about the group and there was a flood of people who were willing to coordinate and help those in need.

“Since then, we have been getting requests for information for the availability of medical facilities, questions regarding COVID-19 and more. And we give our best effort to coordinate the same,” added Parajuli.

Likewise, another group in Viber Covid Connect till now has been able to tackle over 100 requests for help for medical facilities. This group has around 16 members support team along with four hotline support according to Suraj Raj Pandey, co-founder of Viber Covid Connect.

Local initiatives
Not only groups but also the general public has been trying to do what they can from their end. Individuals such as Neha Koirala and Samundra KC used their Facebook pages to share the information related to the contact numbers for 24 hour free ambulance service with oxygen within the valley.

Even Mahabir Pun, founder of the National Innovation Center, has used his official Facebook page where he appealed for empty oxygen cylinders so that he could refill them and give them to the needy ones.

Youth clubs like Chyasal Youth Club of Lalitpur have set up isolation facilities to take care of COVID-19 patients from their localities. The facility set up by Chyasal Youth Club in a building that was earlier used to hold community ceremonies has a five-bed isolation facility.
Likewise, in Biratnagar too under the leadership of Dr Bhusal Nivholous, a 500-bed isolation centre with oxygen is also in operation.

Overcoming challenges
Due to the massive need of medical facilities, the information on these platforms for ICU beds seems to be not that reliable as those beds motioned in the group would already be taken. “Considering the pandemic situation we are not able to help being physically present which is impossible but to know about the availability of resources we are trying to create a google sheet and track or sort out the needs,” shared Parjuli.
At this time of crisis, an act of kindness and compassion along with giving hope in forms of support is what one can carry on, said Pandey.

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