COVID-19 patients only visit hospitals if they experience serious symptoms
KATHMANDU: Just before the Dashain festival, an isolation center in Tokha, Kathmandu, was fully occupied. The isolation center, with a capacity of 50 beds, was brought into operation in August as the number of COVID-19 cases started to increase at a significant rate in Kathmandu.
On Monday, the isolation center discharged two patients, and the center does not have a single patient there. We are holding discussions to stop operating the isolation center, said Dr Suman Acharya, the center’s COVID-19 focal person.
Likewise, on Tuesday, another isolation center in Ichangu Narayan had only 14 patients. The center, which once had 470 patients, is also preparing to shut its doors. The number of patients started to decrease after the government decided to charge a fee to COVID-19 patients, said Sushil Khanal, who oversees the Ichangu Narayan isolation center.
Similarly, the Kharipati Isolation Center also has no patients, shared Dr Sumitra Gautam, the center’s focal person. Almost all the isolation centers are empty; however, ICU wards in hospitals are overcrowded.“The number of symptomatic patients is increasing, and the number of tests have declined. As a result the hospital ICU wards are fully occupied,” said Gautam, who is also a medical superintendent at Bhaktapur Hospital.
According to Teku Hospital, the number of patients in isolation has decreased, but the ICU beds are all occupied. “The ICU ward of the hospital is almost full,” said Sagar Rajbhandari, director at Teku Hospital. The hospital has a total of 22 ICU beds. “People have started to take COVID-19 lightly. They come to hospital only if they see serious symptoms. This is the reason why the number of patients has decreased in isolation, and the ICU wards are full,” he said, also adding that the number of patients decreased in isolation after the government decided to charge a fee to COVID-19 patients.
Patan Hospital has 18 ICU beds for COVID-19 patients. “The ICU ward of the hospital is overwhelmed with patients. As patients opt to stay in home isolation, the isolation ward is empty. Only serious patients come to hospital as people have started to take the contagion lightly,” said Dr Bimal Pandey of Patan Hospital.
On Tuesday, there were 321 COVID-19 patients in ICU wards across the country. Of the total patients, 127 patients are admitted to ICU wards of different hospitals in Bagmati Province. The Armed Police Force Hospital in Balambu has 20 ICU beds, of which 16 are taken. “After the government allowed COVID-19 patients to stay in home isolation, it was certain that isolation centers would get empty,” according to Dr Prabin Nepal of APF Hospital.
Lately, the number of COVID-19 testing has decreased by a significant number. The government, which was once testing 17,000 people daily on an average, is currently conducting only 7,000 tests per day.
As of Tuesday, the number of COVID-19 deaths has reached 1,730.