KATHMANDU, June 11 (Xinhua) -- The 5,000 oxygen bags imported by Nepal's Everest Oxygen Private Limited from China were sold like hot cakes amid an acute shortage of medical oxygen in Nepal.
"Just a few of them are in stock currently as demands surged right after the oxygen bags arrived in Nepal from China," Shiva Prasad Ghimire, managing director of the company, told Xinhua on Friday.
"Charity organizations purchased most of them while ordinary persons also bought them. I also donated a few of them," said Ghimire.
The new wave of coronavirus infections that started in Nepal in early April had left many patients gasping for oxygen, as a short supply of oxygen and beds forced hospitals to turn away patients in May, when in most days of the month 8,000-9,000 new cases were reported.
As new cases have gone down lately, more infections are reported in some remote districts outside the Kathmandu Valley, according to Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population.
Ghimire said that oxygen bags could be useful in rural Nepal where the oxygen facilities are inadequate to cope with surging COVID-19 cases. "We bought these oxygen bags from China by targeting COVID-19 patients from the remote areas as well as those staying in home isolation," he explained.
According to Ghimire, people in home isolation had bought oxygen bags for potential emergency needs.
In the face of the shortage of oxygen in Nepal, the government and the private sector mainly imported oxygen cylinders, oxygen plants and oxygen concentrators.
Reecharger, an online shopping platform, also put the one-liter oxygen bags for sale on its platform.
"We introduced the oxygen bags for COVID-19 patients who need oxygen for emergency use before they travel to hospital from home," Laxmi Budhathoki, chief executive officer of Reecharger, told Xinhua.
"A COVID-19 patient may get oxygen up to one hour from the oxygen bag," he said, adding that his platform imported the oxygen bags from China considering the potential needs of oxygen for emergency use.
On Friday, Reecharger took orders from customers. "After examining the demand, we will decide whether to import more such oxygen bags," said Budhathoki.
According to those selling the oxygen bags, although there are alternative sources of oxygen like oxygen cylinders and concentrators, the oxygen bags are more comfortable for patients due to their portability.
In the past 24 hours, Nepal logged 2,709 new COVID-19 cases and 67 deaths, bringing the total infections and deaths to 604,396 and 8,305 respectively, while a total of 520,816 cases have been recovered.