News Digest – National Security & Climate Change (April 01 – 07, 2021)

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According to the health ministry, as of April 7, Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 278,470 and the death tally has reached 3,036. There are 1,979 active cases of infection in the country while 273,445 people have made a recovery.

Health experts have warned that a new wave of Covid-19 may be here amidst reports of the rising number of infections. The discovery of a more infectious variant of the Covid-19 virus has led to rising number of infections all around the world. Experts in Nepal have said that they fear the mutated virus may be responsible for the increasing number of infections in Nepal. They have also urged authorities to show more urgency in this case as it could have devastating impacts without timely intervention.

Although Nepal was one of the first countries to launch a Covid-19 vaccination drive, it is now scrambling to secure enough doses to continue to campaign. The uncertainty surrounding the supply of Covid-19 vaccines prompted the WHO to issue a guidance that suggests countries to make independent decisions on how to carry out the vaccination drive. Nepali authorities have been tight lipped about the status of vaccines only letting on that there are enough doses left to vaccinate individuals who took the first jab. However, it is also unclear when those individuals will get their second jab.

According to reports, the government has announced that those entering Kathmandu with Covid-19 like symptoms need to get antigen testing done before entering the valley. A CCMC (Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre) meeting decided to establish health desks for antigen tests at all the entry points to the Valley. According to authorities at CCMC, the measure is being implemented in an effort to curb the number of infections in the densely populated valley amidst reports of increasing number of cases of infections. Officials of the Health Ministry confirmed that the tests will only be conducted on symptomatic individuals.

Essentials workers will be immunized with the Covid-19 vaccine provided by China under grant assistance from April 7. Nepal had received 800,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Sinopharm, a state backed pharmaceutical giant in China. According to officials at the Health Ministry, apart from essential workers, the vaccine will be administered to businessmen and truck drivers who need to travel to China frequently as well as Nepali students pursuing degrees in China but are unable to go back due to the pandemic. Until now, a shortage in supply of vaccine had suspended the vaccination drive.

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