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Nepal to airlift oxygen cylinders from China for COVID-19 patients

Nepal is preparing to take delivery of oxygen cylinders from China early next week as the Himalayan country faces an acute shortage of oxygen due to growing needs of COVID-19 patients, Nepali government officials said Saturday.

The country on Saturday recorded 8,287 new COVID-19 infections through PCR tests and 131 positives through antigen tests, and 53 more patients lost their lives in the past 24 hours.

Also on Saturday, as many as 26 members of the House of Representatives in Nepal have tested positive for coronavirus, just as they are preparing to vote on Monday on a motion of confidence called by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

“The ground reality is horrible and depressing. Nepalis’ worst fears are coming true as a nationwide surge of infections is pushing the health system to the brink of collapse. Many of Nepal’s hospitals are full and overstretched, with towns and communities near the border with India unable to attain, unable to handle the increasing number of people who need treatment,” said Kanchan Jha, founder of Sano Paila, a non-profit and non-governmental organization, in an interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN).

To cope with the shortage of oxygen, the Nepal Airlines is scheduled to send a plane to China Monday to take back the oxygen cylinders donated by China, said the officials.

The shipment is part of the cylinders to be provided by China in grant under an agreement between the two sides, said officials from Nepal’s Finance and Health Ministries.

“China has pledged to support COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies to Nepal to fight the pandemic. Earlier Nepal received 400,000 oxygen cylinders and ventilators from China and within a week the China government will provide additional 40 ventilators, 20 automated analyzers and other life saving equipment,” said Jha.

The Nepali government plans to distribute the China-made oxygen cylinders in government-run hospitals, which are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients as the second wave of the pandemic is sickening more and more people, said Nepali Health Ministry officials. 

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