News Digest – National Security & Climate Change (December 17 – December 23, 2020)

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Nepal’s Covid-19 tally reaches 255236 as death toll reaches 1798: As of December 9, Nepal’s COVID-19 tally stands at 255,236 and the death tally has reached 1,798. According to the health ministry, there are 7,729 active cases of infection in the country while 245,709 people have made a recovery. Province No. 2 has reported 20,588 cases with 210 deaths, Bagmati Province has reported 139,216 cases with 891 deaths, Lumbini Pradesh has reported 28,293 cases with 226 deaths, Sudurpaschim Pradesh has reported 13,772 cases with 54 deaths, Province No. 1 has reported 29,575 cases with 213 deaths, Karnali Province has reported 6,349 cases with 24 deaths, and Gandaki Province has reported 16,721 cases with 177 deaths.

Nepal restricts entry for travelers originating from and transiting through the UK: The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal announced on December 22 that any international airline bound to Nepal shall not carry passengers originating from or transiting through the United Kingdom after a highly contagious strain of Coronavirus was discovered in the country. The statement also said that the entry restriction will be valid from midnight on December 23 until further notice.

Indicators demonstrate that the virus spread has not slowed down: According to public health experts, indicators such as the lack of sufficient intensive care unit beds and ventilators for critically ailing patients and a high positivity rate despite reduced testing, demonstrate that the virus has continued to spread. The health ministry has also come under fire for distorting numbers and creating a false sense of security by including test results of healthy individuals, getting tested to travel overseas in its daily COVID-19 briefing.

Experts warn a possible surge in cases amidst political crisis: According to reports, Nepal is currently experiencing a 15% test positivity rate which translates to a high transmission rate. Such high test positivity rates are alarming and the recent political crisis is likely to shift focus away from the pandemic. Public health experts have warned that the virus spread has not slowed down and the reason for low numbers are due to the reduction in tests. Experts have also argued that people are going to suffer, now that a political crisis has taken precedence over the pandemic.

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