By Binod Prasad Adhikari
Kathmandu [Nepal], January 12 (ANI): As Nepal government has made COVID vaccination mandatory to access public services from January 17, people queued up at hospitals and other centres for hours to get vaccinated.
Though vaccination starts from 9 am (local time), people queued outside Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Hospital in the capital Kathmandu early to get jabbed. The hospital has seen a surge in number of people rolling their sleeves as the government is making vaccination cards mandatory starting from 17 January.
"Government has announced it mandatory to have vaccination card to use or access public services starting from January 17 which has made people rush to get jabbed. Number also has increased as those who have got the dosages earlier and might have lost the certificate also might have turned in too," Lilanath Bhandari, Emergency In charge of Sukraraj Tropical hospital who also is overseeing the vaccination campaign told ANI.
As per the official, there has been a steep rise in the number of people trying to get vaccinated in recent days. On Monday the centre had inoculated about 1,700 people followed by 2,500 on Tuesday and it crossed the mark of 3,000 on Wednesday.
The hospital has been offering Janssen, Covishield and Vero Cell vaccines to people on the basis of their preference. Those traveling abroad are being administered with single dose Janssen vaccine while others are being administered with the remaining two.
Those who left before due to various reasons and couldn't get jab now are flocking to vaccination centres around Kathmandu to get the dosages just like Ranjan Pandey.
"I earlier was infected with COVID-19 and recovered from it. At that time I technically wasn't fit to get the jabs because of which I got vaccinated a bit late and now the nature of my profession also compels me to get inoculated for which I showed up here," Pandey, an online supplier of goods told ANI after being vaccinated.
Though Nepal rolled out an inoculation campaign from early February 2021, about 37.3 per cent of the population only has been fully vaccinated. Latest restrictions and reforms are expected to improve the number further encouraging people to turn out at vaccination centres to get the anti-COVID shots.
Buffered between India and China, the Himalayan Nation in recent days has continued to record a steep rise in the number of cases of COVID-19.
Hospitals again have started feeling the pressure of influx of infected ones from the second week of January in comparison to the first week.
There were a total of 3,075 new cases of coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours on Wednesday. According to the Ministry of Health and Population, 1,535 people have been infected in the Kathmandu Valley in the past 24 hours.
Similarly, two more persons have succumbed to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours taking the coronavirus death toll in the country 11,609 till date. Meanwhile, 278 persons have returned home after a complete health recovery from COVID-19.
"Flow of patients has surged in recent days. Earlier in weeks we use to have patients needed to be admitted standing at around one or two and even no patients to look after some days. But in last 24 hours, 10 new patients were admitted here which shows that the cases are increasing constantly," Bhandari said.
Unlike Sukraraj Hospital, the Armed Police Force Hospital till Tuesday was treating 35 COVID infected patients as the number stood to 8 in the earlier week. Out of the 35 admitted, 5 are in Intensive Care Unit of the health facility.
The Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Maharajgunj said that 22 patients infected with Covid-19 were receiving treatment at the hospital on Tuesday. The number was less than a dozen until a week ago.
Though Nepal lacks enough testing or gene sequencing facilities, it has been suspected that Omicron variant predominantly found in India and China, two neighbouring nations might have fuelled the infection in the Himalayan Nation.
But as per Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population, only 24 new Omicron cases has been reported in the country after it tested 250 of the 1,146 samples of the infected collected randomly from across the country. Those samples were collected until January 7 and the Ministry made a statement about Omicron last Friday.
Dubbed as less fatal than Delta variant which swept the world in 2021 claiming thousands of lives, new variant named as Omicron is claimed to be less lethal and doctors have experienced less complications this time in comparison to the second wave.
"Patients admitted now don't seem to have complications in comparison with what was seen in second wave. Number of patients requiring ICU, Oxygen support is comparatively less and those admitted now only have fever, body ache and very minimal drop in oxygen levels. Hospitalization of admitted patients also has reduced now. It has dropped to 2-3 days by this time," Bhandari added.
With more than half of the nation's population yet to be inoculated with first or complete dose, voices for booster shots have risen. The government has delayed plan to inoculate people with booster dosages until 40 percent of the total population is jabbed.
As of Tuesday, 11,336,538 people, or 37.3 percent of the population, have been fully vaccinated. The vaccination rate is so woefully slow that there was just a 0.3 percentage point increase from Monday. Despite the Health Ministry's plan to inoculate 500,000 people a day, on Tuesday, only 180,457 people were vaccinated. (ANI)