Teku Hospital sees overwhelming crowd as thousands of people seek vaccination certificates to travel abroad

Published On: July 23, 2021 09:44 AM NPT By: Pabitra Sunar

People planning to go abroad for work and further study are seeking the document after various countries made the vaccination certificate against COVID-19 mandatory.

Experts worry that such a large crowd without proper social distancing could spread COVID-19 infection

KATHMANDU, July 23: Ramprit Sada, 45, of Saptari and his friend Awasthi Sada have a flight to Saudi Arabia at 10PM on Friday. Before the flight, they need to get vaccinated and be ready with the certificate.

He had come to Kathmandu from Saptari two days ago for the sole purpose. He queued up at three different vaccination centers the whole day on Thursday. But he could not get the vaccine. The reason was the centers went out of vaccines before his turn finally came. After that Sada along with his three friends reached Shukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital. When reached, the queue meant for getting COVID-19 vaccines was already over.

All three were found at the hospital in the afternoon. After not getting vaccinated, they were preparing to return to a hotel at Gaushala. "We visited three places today but could not get vaccinated. We have been told to come tomorrow [Friday] morning," he said. 

But the question remains whether all three will be vaccinated ? Even if they get vaccinated, will they be able to get the vaccination certificate by Friday evening? He said that he was about to return with a dilemma in his mind. "If we don't get vaccinated Friday, we will miss our flight," said Ramprit.

Sunil Gurung of Pokhara, who was ready to fly to Afghanistan on Friday, and Tej Bahadur Thapa of Myagdi, who was on his way to Poland, were also seen at Teku Hospital with the same concern. They will have to undergo PCR and acquire vaccination certification on Friday itself. Vaccination could not be verified even though they stayed in line all day on Thursday. When they reached Teku Hospital on Thursday, they were about to return to their hotels as they did not see the condition of getting certification after seeing the line of thousands.

Saroj Katuwal from Biratnagar, who is preparing to go to the US a few months later, came to Kathmandu three days ago to get vaccinated and get the certification. After waiting in line for three hours at Bir Hospital on Wednesday, he was vaccinated. After 12 hours of queuing up at Teku Hospital to get the certification, he finally got the COVID-19 vaccine certification.

He is now planning to return to Biratnagar with the certification he received after a very difficult experience. "I haven't eaten while waiting in line," he said. He said that the hardships he had to endure in a separate line to get a bill of Rs 300 for a certificate and a separate line to get a letter after receiving the bill was a moment he will never forget.

According to Katuwal, a young man was wandering helplessly for the vaccination and certification for the past three days. Many were found queuing for 11 to 13 hours for the COVID-19 vaccine certification. Three youths including Sanjay Gurung, who were scheduled to go to Qatar, got their turn in 12 hours after queuing from 3AM.

People complained that they had to wait in a long line all day as the counter for paying for the letter and the table for preparing the letter are the same. However, the hospital said that it could not manage as thousands of youths came on the same day. The service period was extended on Wednesday and Thursday due to overcrowding, Director of the Hospital Dr Anup Bastola said on Thursday evening. "Even now, there are 15 youths around me. We are preparing to send them only after providing services."

At a time when COVID infections are on the rise in the Valley, it is a risk that the hospital is overcrowded, Bastola explained. The Ministry of Health and Population has directed to not overcrowd places and to strictly adhere to public health standards as many districts of the country have started seeing rise in cases. But the capital's Shukraraj Hospital failed to comply with the government's policy, according to the scenario seen on Thursday. The hospital had to ask for the help of police and the Red Cross Society to control the crowd on Thursday. After two consecutive days of congestion, the hospital has decided to provide services by adding a certification table from Friday, according to Bastola.

The Ministry of Health and Population has handed over the responsibility to Shukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital for providing official vaccination certification, PCR certification and certificates for other communicable diseases. The hospital has stated that it has faced difficulty in managing the number of service seekers this time as it has already been issuing certificates for other diseases.

"On other days, only five to ten people used to come daily. Now, many people have come around the same time to get the vaccination certificate against COVID-19," he said. Earlier, the hospital has been issuing certificates for HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis and other communicable diseases.

According to Director Bastola, those who plan to go abroad from Nepal are demanding the letter around the same time after various countries made the vaccination certificate against COVID-19 mandatory. "There are a lot of people who take the certification letter in English so that they don't get in trouble later," he said.



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