COVID outbreak: Nepal requests climbers to bring back empty oxygen cylinders

COVID outbreak: Nepal requests climbers to bring back empty oxygen cylinders

Nepal, like a number of countries in the Indian subcontinent, is currently grappling with the second wave of COVID-19. The tiny Himalayan nation is also facing a shortage of oxygen cylinders; so much so that the authorities have urged Everest climbers to bring back their empty oxygen cylinders rather than leave those on the trek. An appeal regarding the same has been made by the Nepal Mountaineering Association in a bid to support the nation’s flailing healthcare system.

Kul Bahadur Gurung, an official with the mountaineering association, stated that a minimum of 3500 oxygen cylinders were carried on various treks this season. Most of the times, empty cylinders are abandoned enroute by trekkers; the discarded canisters/cylinders go to waste and are often lost in avalanches, debris and snow. The same can be put to good use now, as the nation is trying to meet the growing demand of oxygen by COVID-19 patients.

Mr Gurung told Reuters that, “We appeal to climbers and sherpas to bring back their empty bottles wherever possible as they can be refilled and used for the treatment of the coronavirus patients who are in dire needs.”

Nepal currently has only 1600 ICU beds and 600 ventilators and its medical infrastructure is stretched to the brim. The total number of VOVID-19 cases in Nepal were 394,667 on May 9, 2021.

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