KATHMANDU, April 29: The coronavirus infection in Nepal last year had made the elderly and the chronically-ill people more vulnerable, resulting in a large number of deaths in the same groups. However, the current wave of COVID-19 has affected the healthy youths as well. Doctors involved in the treatment of the patients have pointed out that the death rate of even the youths has increased.
The contagious disease led to the deaths of two youths who were 33 and 38 years old, respectively, at the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital a few days ago. Similarly, a 49-year old person died as well. All three of them had been admitted to the hospital after being diagnosed with pneumonia but died in the process of treatment. “None of the deceased had any chronic disease,” Dr Anup Bastola said.
A few days ago, one of the two patients who died at Hams Hospital was a youth who did not have any illness. As stated by the hospital's COVID treatment physician Dr Raju Pangeni, the patient had died due to corona pneumonia. At the moment, most of the critical patients admitted to the ward fall in the age group of 35 to 50 years old, Dr Pangeni added.
According to the COVID treatment physician at TU Teaching Hospital, Dr Sabin Thapaliya, ninety percent of the 130 patients who were admitted to the ward are in a critical state as most of them are in need of ICU, including youths who have been diagnosed with pneumonia.
As stated by Dr Bastola, due to the severe nature of the coronavirus disease this year, even healthy youths are becoming critically sick. The negligence of thinking corona as a mere common cold and fever has led the young people to stay inside their homes which has made them even more sick, he added. The ill people only arrive at the hospital after not getting well for a long time. By then, the coronavirus develops pneumonia in their lungs, Bastola said. He also stated that the young people who arrive at the hospital after getting severly-ill from pneumonia and lung infections die after not getting well.
According to Dr Pangeni of Hams hospital, the second wave of the coronavirus has mostly affected children and youths because the people of these age groups ignored the COVID-19 health protocols and participated in gatherings and assemblies. Similarly, he credits vaccination for fewer numbers of infection in the elderly this year.
According to the doctor, the youths who arrive at the hospitals when faced with early symptoms like fever and cough have a high probability of recovering. “The local government bodies should monitor the oxygen depletion and also make arrangements to send the sick to the hospital if their oxygen level is below 94,” he suggested. Also, oxygen and fever should be measured at home if possible and that the one should rush to the hospital immediately if it gets low, he added.
Highest infection rate recorded on Wednesday
The coronavirus infection rate reached thirty-three percent on Wednesday, making it the highest infection rate in Nepal so far. The infection rate has been increasing for the past two weeks. Earlier, the rate was recorded at 28.5 percent on Monday and 30 percent on Tuesday.
Of the 14,834 samples checked, 4,817 tested positive for the coronavirus in the last twenty-four hours. The Kathmandu Valley saw the highest number of infections in a day with 2,047 people who tested positive, taking the total number of infected in Nepal to 312,699.
In the last 24 hours, 10 people lost their lives to the virus as 17 new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed. With this, the number of deaths from the coronavirus has reached 3,211 in the country. Currently the death rate in Nepal is estimated to be 1.01 percent with over 30,209 cases of infections out of which 2,364 are undergoing treatment at institutional isolation centers, 317 are in ICU and 98 on ventilators.
According to experts, the rate of infection in Nepal has been increasing rapidly in comparison to other countries and populations. As stated by the former head of National Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, Dr Baburam Marasini, the rate of infection which stands at 33 percent of the total population at the moment is a frightening situation. “Nepal’s current infection rate is higher than India’s,” he added.
As stated by Dr Marasani, the government's failure to take timely action in surveillance of the border, free testing in the community, contact tracing in the affected areas, promotion of gathering events by leaders and lack of surveillance in public areas have led to the rapid transmission of the virus. “Safety standards in hotels, public vehicles and shops were not set, nor were they followed,” he added. The open traffic from east to west has increased the risk of the coronavirus reaching the villages at the moment, compared to the last year, Dr Marasani said.
Although the prohibitory order may control the spread of the infection, it is not the solution to the problem, he said. Even if the government has enforced prohibitory orders for a certain period, there is the lack of sustainable policies and their implementation to control the pandemic in Nepal. According to Dr Marasani, a complete disregard by the Nepal government despite the announcement of a health emergency by the World Health Organization has led to the current situation of the country. “Politicians openly disregarded the health protocols, the main culprit seems to be the government,” he said.