Mustang Continues To Battle Against COVID-19 With Limited Health Infrastructures

Mustang district, which had not been hit hard by the pandemic during the first wave, is currently grappling with surging cases of COVID-19. This year, Mustang has recorded 114 new infections and three fatalities until now.

Dr. Manoj Ghimire, medical superintendent at Mustang Hospital informed that four COVID-19 patients were receiving treatment with oxygen support at present.

Of the total 15 beds in the hospitals, eight beds have been separated for infected patients, he said.

“The oxygen produced from oxygen plants is being sent to each bed via pipes. Currently, we have 28 oxygen cylinders including seven large and two medium-sized cylinders,” Dr. Ghimire said.

Moreover, Jagadish Aryal, assistant Chief District Officer, said, “Being a Himalayan district, the weather here is always cold. Also, the health infrastructures are weak as no ventilators and Intensive Care Units are available in the district.”

He added that it was not possible to airlift all critically ill patients to other districts.

“Due to the limited infrastructures and human resources, Mustang is at high risk of facing a grave situation of COVID-19 crisis,” said Aryal. He added that the infection rate had increased in the district due to the increased flow of tourists and various religious and cultural works.

Tikaram Bhandari, chief of District Health Office, Mustang, said, “In a normal situation, people visiting Mustang used to suffer from altitude sickness due to lack of oxygen. In this scenario, the problem of shortage of oxygen has hit the district hard to battle against COVID-19.”

He added, “Currently, 14 infected patients were referred to other districts for treatment as their health condition deteriorated. As the district’s population is only 13,000, this is an alarming situation.”

Even though the district has been making efforts in prevention and control of the spread of COVID-19, it has not been able to control the spread.

Around 1,500 pilgrims used to visit Muktinath Temple daily after the domestic and international tourism resumed last year, said Rabin Subedi, secretary at Muktinath Temple.

The locals have been complaining that tourists defying public health standards were the major reason behind the increasing infection rate in the district.

According to Bhandari, Mustang recorded 114 cases of COVID-19 and three fatalities during the second wave. Currently, there are 84 active patients in the district, of which, 14 are admitted to the hospital and the remaining are staying in home isolation.