News Digest: National Security & Climate Change (February 11 – February 17)

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Nepal’s Covid-19 tally reaches 272,945 as death toll reaches 2030: According to the health ministry, as of February 17, Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 272,215 and the death tally has reached 2030. There are 1612 active cases of infection in the country while 269,303 people have made a recovery.

Meteorologists suggest that Westerly wind will likely to have an impact on Nepal’s weather for a few more days. According to reports, it is cloudy in most parts around the country while some parts received light snowfall. “However, rainfall has not occurred as the Westerly is weak, and it does not have adequate moisture to be able to cause precipitation”.

42 cadres of the banned fringe of the Communist Party of Nepal have been charged with cases of abduction and murder, including its general secretary Netra Bikram Chand (Biplab), at Morang district court. On December 4, six members of the banned fringe abducted Rajendra Shrestha, a school principal in Morang, who was found dead with his throat slit on the same day. However, details on the 42 cadres is unknown.

Experts have warned that Nepal may be at risk for new COVID-19 variants. The variant first discovered in the UK was confirmed in Nepal on January 18. Since then, around 13 suspected infections from the same variant have been identified in Kathmandu and Pokhara. However, public health experts suggest that while authorities are focusing on vaccines, they have significantly reduced testing and contact tracing efforts which could prove to be disastrous in efforts to contain outbreaks.

A cabinet meeting held on February 16 has approved 80% advanced payment to procure 2 million doses of Covishield vaccine manufactured in India. According to the Health Minister, the vaccines have been secured at the rate of USD 4 per dose and the cost of 2 million vaccines will be approximately Rs 936 million.

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