News Digest – National Security & Climate Change (August 19 – 25, 2021)

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As of August 24, Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 831,968 and the death tally has reached 10,568. There are 38,351 active cases of infection in the country while 702,183 people have made a recovery. The country recorded 2,525 new cases and 35 deaths on August 25.

Reports suggest a rise in influenza cases during a time where variants of the covid-19 virus have also increased infections in the country. According to WHO’s Global Influenza Surveillance, cases of influenza have spiked since the second week of August. Public health experts have warned that since influenza and coronavirus share common symptoms, misdiagnosis and negligence could lead to fatalities.

In a meeting on August 24, the Chief District Officers of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur have decided to extend the ongoing prohibitory period in the valley till September 1. However, they also decided to discontinue the earlier decision to limit vehicular movement after 8 pm. The officials had been criticized by public health experts for restricting the movement only during night-time despite mobility being the highest during the day as infections steadily rise in the valley.

According to reports, as of 23 august, 13, 227, 590 doses of the vaccines including AstraZeneca, Vero Cell and Janssen by Johnson and Johnson have been administered to Nepalis. According to figures provided by the Ministry of Health, 16.47 percent of the population has taken the first dose while 12.85 percent have been fully vaccinated. Public health experts have continuously stressed that vaccination is the only method to control infections. While Nepal was earlier struggling to procure vaccines, the country is currently receiving a steady flow of vaccines from diverse sources.

Health workers of Baglung Municipality testing for corona on the streets for those individuals who violated the prohibitory orders. Photo: RSS

Nepalis travel abroad for security jobs and among those are Gurkhas hired by private contractors to provide protection to officials, diplomats, and companies in Afghanistan. They are also among the thousands of Nepali nationals trying to flee Afghanistan amidst Taliban takeover. Nepali officials have said that while the government has made diplomatic efforts to coordinate their evacuation, the process has become complicated as many contractors have been working in Afghanistan illegally and records are inaccurate. However, officials have also stated that “we are committed to make their repatriation at the earliest, irrespective of their status.”

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