As Nepal’s coronavirus crisis worsens, NRNA Australia races to assist people back home

Officers of the Nepali Army and other workers at the Pashupati crematorium have been working round the clock as number of Covid-19 fatalities surges in Nepal. (Image: Barsha Shah / Nepalese Voice)

Melbourne, Australia:

As of the time, when I write this article – there are 101, 634 active cases of Covid-19 in Nepal. 1,241 patients are in ICU, 285 on ventilators, countless people on oxygen supply scattered around outside hospital grounds.

A couple, both on oxygen support wait for hospital beds at the Maharajgunj based Teaching Hospital. (Image: Barsha Shah / Nepalese Voice)

The situation is dire – Nepal’s already weak healthcare infrastructure is reeling under a crisis earlier unseen, but not unforecasted. Public health officials, and even members of the general public – after seeing the situation unfold in India, had made appeal for timely interventions – to prevent a situation like this.

It is hard to imagine that Nepal’s earlier threshold was 25,000 actives cases – the last informal trigger for a lockdown in 2020. With one week of more than 8,000 cases a day – Nepal’s situation has worsened.

National and international media have portrayed the situation at home – with video footages of patients begging for hospital beds and funeral pyres being burnt non-stop making rounds on social media. Other forms of public appeal is inescapable on social media too – with every third person posting a request for either plasma or worse – an ICU bed.

A patient is placed on oxygen support lies down in a bench outside the Teku Hospital. (Image: Barsha Shah / Nepalese Voice)

For Nepalis living abroad – especially in safe countries like Australia where the state has ensured any wave of Covid-19 is suppressed before it threatens their healthcare system, are worried about the situation back at home. NRNA ICC has already been coordinating efforts – and is arranging donations of ventilators and other necessary medical supplies.

Meanwhile NRNA Australia, the Australian chapter of the global body of Non-Resident Nepalis too has been racing to collect funds. As of Thursday, the fundraiser was able to collect AUD 6,850 of its $ 110,000 goal.

According to Keshav Kandel, President of NRNA Australia, the funds will be utilised to purchase much needed medical equipment. When asked if the procured medical equipments will be handed over to the government, or hospitals of their choice based on the need and requirements, he said government policy bars the organisation from handing over equipments themselves to hospitals. He believes the equipment would reach hospitals which required the resources the most.

Calls for support from NRNA Australia is also being intensfied by other community members. Deepa Rai, a recognised community figure within Nepalis in Australia, who has in the past championed several leads to help Nepalis at home, has repeatedly urged NRNA Australia to prioritize helping Nepalis at home. She has said community service should be NRNA’s first and foremost agenda.

If you would like to support NRNA Australia’s initiative to help Nepal, please follow the link below:

Officers of the Nepali Army and other workers oversee the funerals of a COVID-19 related fatality. (Image: Barsha Shah / Nepalese Voice)