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Govt to add 120-bed ICU wards in Valley to battle COVID-19



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By Arpana Adhikari

Kathmandu, Mar. 17: With the sharp rise in the respiratory disease novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases across the globe, the government has decided to immediately prepare 120 bedded Intensive Care Unit (ICU) wards in the Kathmandu Valley for the treatment of potential COVID-19 patients.
Although no case of COVID-19 was reported in Nepal, a High-Level Coordination Committee meeting held on Monday at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers decided to adopt a high precaution against the possible spread of coronavirus in Nepal. The committee has decided to arrange 20 bedded ICU wards each at six different hospitals of the Kathmandu Valley.
Narayan Prasad Bidari, member of the high-level coordination committee, who is also the secretary at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, said the government would immediately work to prepare 20 bedded ICU wards at Bir Hospital, Patan Hospital, the Kritipur-based Ayurvedic Teaching Hospital, the Teku-based Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, the Satungal-based Nepal Armed Police Force Hospital and the Chhauni-based Army Hospital. Bidari, after the meeting, told journalists that the committee had also directed the Ministry of Health and Population to arrange at least 100 ICU wards at the State and local level hospitals. “ICU wards will be established in the States considering their requirement,” he added.
The authority has decided to establish 1,000-bed isolation wards at seven different hospitals of the valley, including 200 beds in Ayruvedic Teaching Hospital, 220 in the Kharipati-based Training Centre of Nepal Electricity Authority, 60 in the Telkot-based Training Centre of Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL), 100 in Teku Hospital, 70 in Patan Hospital, 100 in the hospitals of Nepal Police and Armed Police Force and 250 in the Ichangunarayan-based Army Barrack.
The isolation wards would be established in seven States considering the population and requirement of the state, said Bidari.
“In view of the possible risk of virus outbreak, the committee has decided to import 800 sets of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and 3,000 sets of diagnostic kits at the earliest,” he said. Likewise, the Ministry of Health and Population would vend 20,000 sets of PPE, 10,000 sets of diagnostic kits and 1,000 sets of forehead thermal guns as per the existing laws.
The Health Ministry would soon purchase ventilators and equipment required for the ICU. The Ministry has already imported some equipment from the USA and it would arrive in Nepal within two days, said Bidari. “Considering the possible spread of the virus, we have been looking for the space to establish quarantine and isolation wards in future,” he added.
“The government will soon introduce mandatory provision for both the international and local passengers at the Tribhuvan International Airport and other domestic airports to go through the health screening, as per the standard of the WHO,” said Bidari.
Incentives for health workers
The committee has also decided to provide risk allowance to the health workers and the employees who will be deployed to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19.
“The allowance will be provided as per the working condition, said Bidari, adding that the health experts, doctors and nurses involved in lab test and health check-up will be provided allowance equal to 75 per cent of their beginning pay,” he said.
Similarly, the staff members deployed in other services than those above mentioned would be provided allowance equal to 50 per cent of their beginning salary and those who are indirectly involved in the process would be provided 25 per cent of their basic salary as allowance, he added.
Furthermore, the meeting has also declared COVID-19 as deadly disease. “If the employees deployed in the disease prevention and control tasks get infected, he/she will be provided Rs. one million health insurance, as provided by the Provident Fund (PF) for the infection of the deadly disease.”
Besides the members of the PF, health insurance of Rs.one million would be provided for the health workers and volunteers involved in the tasks, the committee decided.
During the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokhrel, Finance Minister and Minister for Communication and Information Technology Dr. Yubaraj Khatiwada, Minister for Health and Population Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal, Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattari were present at the meeting.