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Doctors in Nepal warn of major Covid crisis as virus cases surge by almost 2,500% in a month

Doctors in Nepal have warned they are facing a major crisis as the number of coronavirus cases has soared in a matter of weeks.

Medics have said the country's hospitals are running out of oxygen and beds which could lead to a scale of emergency seen in neighbouring India.

Nepal recorded 8,287 new coronavirus cases yesterday compared to just 337 new cases on the same day four weeks ago.

The number of deaths has also increased with 53 deaths recorded yesterday compared to just one death last month. 

According to the International Federation of the Red Cross, 44 per cent of tests returned positive results last weekend indicating many thousands of infections are undiagnosed.

The charity warns there are grave fears of mass deaths if the virus continues spreading across the country. 

'Right now there are no beds available in any hospital that is treating COVID patients,' said Dr. Jyotindra Sharma, chief of Hospital for Advanced Medicine & Surgery in Kathmandu.

Doctors in Nepal have warned they are facing a major crisis as the number of Covid cases has soared in a matter of weeks. Pictured: Nepalese army prepare funeral pyres for people on the bank of the Bagmati River at Pashupati temple in Kathmandu

Nepal has recorded record numbers of Covid deaths and cases this month as it struggles to cope with the latest surge

Family members of a person who died of COVID-19 pay their last respect at Pashupati cremation center in Kathmandu

Pictured: Family members of a person who died of COVID-19 mourn at Pashupati cremation center in Kathmandu, Nepal

Experts believe Nepal could see a crisis on a scale worse than India if the government is not able to curb the latest surge of coronavirus cases. Pictured: family members mourn at Pashupati cremation center in Kathmandu, Nepal, this morning

Pictured: Nepalese army personnel wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) prepare funeral pyres for people, who died from complications due to COVID-19, on the bank of the Bagmati River at Pashupati temple in Kathmandu, Nepal

'Even if any beds were made available, there is a huge scarcity of oxygen and we are not at the peak of this crisis.'

At the hospital, one of the leading facilities in Nepal for treating COVID-19 patients, extra beds were crammed to accommodate more people.

They've all been taken and the only way to get admitted is through a waiting list.

Dr Sharma added: 'In the extreme situation, people could be dying in the streets.'

He added that it's 'just not possible to immediately increase the capacity of the hospitals.'

At the government-run Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, several COVID-19 patients were lying in beds set up on the veranda and hooked to oxygen cylinder. They're the lucky ones. Others were turned away because there's not enough space or equipment.

'We are under-prepared, under-resourced, and under-capacitated to perform any thing that is expected,' said Dr. Bishal Dhakal, who has been working with coronavirus patients since the beginning of the pandemic.

A lockdown was imposed last month in major cities and towns, and Nepal this week stopped both domestic and international flights.

A family member of a person who died of COVID-19 mourns at Pashupati cremation center in Kathmandu, Nepal

Covid-19 patients being treated outside a hospital after Covid-19 wards are fully occupied at hospitals in Kathmandu, Nepal

Covid-19 patients are being treated outside a hospital after Covid-19 wards are fully occupied at hospitals in Kathmandu

According to data, Nepal has 0.7 doctors per 1,000 people compared to India's 0.9 and the United Kingdom's 2.8 doctors

A Covid-19 patient is being treated outside the hospital after Covid-19 ward is fully occupied at hospitals in Kathmandu, Nepal

The government has pledged several times to increase the number of hospital beds and boost the treatment and preventive measures. However, there has not been any significant change.

Nepal began its vaccination campaign in January with 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca shots donated by India, but it had been suspended because of India's refusal to allow exports as its crisis worsened.

The vaccination resumed when China donated 800,000 doses, and Nepal is negotiating with Russia for supplies of the Sputnik V shots.

Experts fear that if the surge is not controlled, Nepal could face an emergency on a worse scale than that currently facing India.

The country of 31 million people only has 1,595 intensive care beds and 480 ventilators, according to the government's Covid-19 response plan.  

Data also shows it has a shortage of doctors, with just 0.7 physicians per 100,000 people compared to the UK's 2.8 and less than India's 0.9.

Nepal Red Cross Chairperson, Dr Netra Prasad Timsina, said: 'What is happening in India right now is a horrifying preview of Nepal's future if we cannot contain this latest COVID surge that is claiming more lives by the minute.

'Every effort is being made to save lives right now across Nepal with increased medical treatment.

'Nepal Red Cross volunteer health teams are also reducing record infections by helping with testing, vaccinations, handwashing, mask-wearing and isolating infected people.

'It is beyond distressing to see that people cannot say goodbye to their loved ones as cremations are taking place at record levels due to these new COVID variants, which are striking down people of all ages in Nepal.'

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