Unlike during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the patients suffering from coronavirus infection these days do not need oxygen support, say physicians.

Doctors say that though the number of infected people visiting hospitals has increased, most of them have relatively mild symptoms.

Director of Shukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital Manisha Rawal said most of the patients suffering from coronavirus infection at the hospital did not need oxygen support.

"Sixty per cent of the patients do not need oxygen," she said.

The hospital has, however, kept the oxygen and the liquefied oxygen plants ready to meet any emergency.

Rawal said that of the 12 patients admitted to the hospital, three were being treated in intensive care unit with oxygen support and nine were being treated in high dependency unit. According to her, most patients complain of irritation in throat, running nose, body pain, increased body heat, and flu-like symptoms.

The Omicron variant of COVID creates complication in the respiratory system, infecting the upper respiratory tract, whereas the Delta variant infects the lower respiratory tract or lungs, she added.

Of the 15 patients who visited Teku Hospital yesterday, 10 were infected with COVID. The hospital has 100 beds, including 24 ICU beds.

Rawal said the next two weeks would be challenging as the number of COVID cases would keep rising.

Similarly, the number of coronavirus infected people is increasing at Balambu-based APF Hospital. Fifty-five coronavirus infected are now receiving treatment at the hospital.

Dr Pravin Nepal of the hospital stated that most of the patients admitted to the hospital did not need oxygen.

"Only 15 per cent coronavirus patients admitted to the hospital are receiving treatment with oxygen support," he added.

A total of 14 coronavirus patients were admitted to COV- ID-19 Unified Central Hospital (Bir Hospital) in the last 24 hours.

Hospital Chief Dr Bhupendra Basnet shared that the number of people visiting the hospital was increasing with the increase of COVID-19 infection cases. Fifty-two COVID patients are receiving treatment at the hospital.

Of them, nine are in ICU.

The government had decided to operate the country's oldest Bir Hospital as the COVID-19 Unified Central Hospital last year.

Majority of COVID-19 inpatients so far do not need oxygen, according to him.

The hospital owns a plant producing 250 cylinders of oxygen on a daily basis and a 20-tonne liquid oxygen plant. The 500-bed facility has a total of 100 ICU beds.

Though the Omicron variant seems to be less fatal than the previous variants, the effect may be qualitative due to its high transmissibility character. It can infect the vaccinated people as well. Bearing in mind the possible risk from this variant, the hospital has reconditioned the oxygen support system, ICU facility, HDU facility, ventilators and isolation wards. The medical workforce has been put on standby to deal with the emergency situation.

According to Joint Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, 2,797 ICUs, 1,008 ventilators and 3,846 HDUs are available across the country. Likewise, the number of medical oxygen cylinders is 13,939 followed by 693 oxygen concentrators while 19 out of 25 oxygen tankers and 87 of 107 oxygen plants are in operation.

There are 2,494 isolation beds, 324 HDUs, 445 ICUs and 254 ventilator-supported beds in Kathmandu valley.

So far, 27 cases of Omicron variant have been confirmed in the country.

A version of this article appears in the print on January 15, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.