News Digest – National Security and Environment (May 27-2 June, 2021)

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Doctors and nurses of the district hospital in Lamjung Bensishahar Municipality, working to treat the infected patients in the isolation center with oxygen.The isolation center has 25 beds with oxygen and currently 18 corona infected people are being treated here. Photo: RSS

According to reports, as of June 1, Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 566,587 and the death tally has reached 7,454. There are 104,789 active cases of infection in the country while 454,344 people have made a recovery. The Ministry recorded 5,285 new cases and 68 deaths on June 1.

Nepal has begun seeing a decline in number of Covid-19 infections after weeks of having the positivity rate of infections above 40 percent. However, public health experts warned against a false sense of security as Nepal has insufficient testing, wherein positivity rates remain high. However, the government has announced that antigen tests will be ramped up to 25,000 a day. Experts say that while testing helps identify hotspots and clusters, contact tracing measures must also be ramped up while suspected cases are quarantined and infected individuals are isolated and treated.

Nepal’s health system buckling under the pandemic with an acute shortage of essential supplies such as oxygen, trained human resources, and critical life support equipment like ventilators. The situation is dire where hospitals are having to turn patients away due to their inability to tend to new patients. Despite health experts stressing the need to vaccinate individuals to curb infections, the Nepali government has failed to procure vaccines from elsewhere after India imposed restrictions on export of vaccines. However, the grant of one million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from China, most of which arrived on June 1, may provide some respite. The vaccines will be administered to individuals between 60 – 64 years of age.

Monsoon is nearing and it brings seasonal diseases with symptoms akin to that of covid-19. Experts have warned that treatable cases may become fatal for not get diagnosed in time as Nepal battles with the second wave of the pandemic. Nepal’s health system is overwhelmed under the pressure of the pandemic and it is likely that seasonal diseases will make it more challenging for health workers and facilities. Doctors say what is also worrying is most of the symptoms of the seasonal diseases like dengue, typhoid fever, diarrhea overlap those of Covid-19.

According to reports, District administration authorities of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur are expected to ease covid-19 restrictions that were imposed in the valley since the last week of April. The current prohibitory order expires on June 3.

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