News Digest – National Security (3 – 9 June, 2021)

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According to reports, as of June 8, Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 595,364 and the death tally has reached 8,098. There are 82,736 active cases of infection in the country while 504,540 people have made a recovery. The country recorded 5,153 new cases and 108 deaths on June 8.

Despite the government’s plan to conduct mass antigen tests across Nepal to identify clusters and hotspots, the campaign has seen limited success due to alleged poor responses from the public. For instance, out of the 50,000 tests that were to be conducted in the Kathmandu Metropolitan city in five days, only 6,450 tests were conducted. According to reports, fear and lack of awareness among the public failed to garner public support. Authorities have also blamed the prohibitory orders for the poor public participation in the antigen testing campaign.

Experts have begun to question equitable distribution of vaccines after the government’s decision to focus on Kathmandu valley. Public health experts have been raising questions on authorities prioritizing vaccination in the Kathmandu valley. According to reports, the number of cases in rural Nepal have been increasing while numbers in the valley have been decreasing. Rural parts of Nepal are also facing issues such as lack of testing and delayed PCR reports.

The government has begun another round of Covid-19 vaccination drive across the country from June 8 with the Vero Cell vaccines developed and donated by China. This is the second time that Vero Cell vaccination campaign is being launched after the People’s Republic of China recently sent 1 million doses of anti-coronavirus jabs to Nepal on a grant. The World Health Organization put out a statement saying it is not aware of a “Nepal variant” of Covid-19 after Daily Mail, a British media reported of such a variant. The Ministry of Health also supported the statement and said no “Nepali variant” has been detected. Officials at the National Public Health Laboratory, that keeps track of the variants that exist in the country, said only three variants; Alpha (B.1.1.7), previously known as the UK variant, Delta (B.1.617.2) and Kappa (B.1.617.1), double mutant Indian variants first detected in India, have been circulating in the country.

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