By Binod Prasad Adhikari
Kathmandu [Nepal], May 17 (ANI): Running short of oxygen for patients of COVID-19, Nepal has requested mountain climbers of ongoing Spring Expedition to bring back their canisters so that it can be refilled to supply medical gas (oxygen) to the patients.
With the COVID-19 infection surging in the country, patients are gasping for oxygen as there is a dearth of oxygen containers.
Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) has requested climbers this season to bring back their empty or unused cylinders so that it can be used for oxygen refilling.
"We now are facing the second wave of infection which has created grave kind of situation and crisis, matter is going out of hand. Cylinders (oxygen) which arrived back from the expedition can be used at this hour of crisis. We are lending our hands to government, various associations and those who are working on it," Santa Bir Lama, President of Nepal Mountaineering Association told ANI.
"In the ongoing expedition all the climbers are on base camp, they possess ample number of cylinders. We have requested owners and operators to bring back cylinders immediately after completion of expedition to use it for the benefit of people," Lama added.
The NMA has communicated with the expedition organisers and agents requesting them to bring back oxygen canisters for refilling and use it for treatment of COVID-19 patients. Usually these canisters are left on slopes and ridges of mountains.
It comes in line with the statutory provision of Government of Nepal where it has directed the climbers to not let the waste out in high mountains fearing environmental crisis on the top of the world (Mt Everest).
Hospitals in Kathmandu are flooded with COVID-19 patients who are lying on the ground gasping for the life-saving gas due to the limited number of oxygen gas cylinders.
Dozens of COVID-19 patients in recent weeks have lost their lives due to lack of medical oxygen. Fragile healthcare system of the Himalayan nation is undergoing test at the time of pandemic.
Kathmandu on an average needs 15,000 oxygen gas cylinders on daily basis at current time, which might run high in coming days as the peak of ongoing pandemic is expected in the next month.
Though empty oxygen gas cylinders are being outsourced from various countries, gap between available cylinders and its demand on daily basis is widening.
It is expected that climbers have taken around 3,500 cylinders of oxygen for expedition this season that might help Nepal in tackling the shortage of oxygen.
Nepal Spring Expedition lasts till the end of May. More than 400 climbers are on the way to reach top of Mt Everest. Nepal has issued record number of permits to climbers this year despite the ravaging pandemic.
With the rise in infection and beds falling short to admit infected ones, many of the local bodies around the nation had imposed restrictions aiming to flatten the curve.
Expedition agencies have welcomed the decision of NMA to bring back the empty cylinders, and have extended their willingness to support the cause at the time of crisis.
Mingma Sherpa, Chairman of Seven Summit Treks told ANI, "We have a lot of oxygen for mountaineering so we neither face shortage nor have any problems. Public are now facing the problem with the wide spreading coronavirus outbreak and are having problem in supply of oxygen. Seven Summit Treks have around one thousand bottles (of oxygen), when the empty cylinders come back here (Kathmandu) we can provide them to government which they can refill with the medical oxygen and use it for the patients of COVID-19." (ANI)