News Digest – National Security & Climate Change (December 24 – December 30, 2020)

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Nepal’s Covid-19 tally reaches 258840 as death toll reaches 1832: As of December 30, Nepal’s COVID-19 tally stands at 258,840 and the death tally has reached 1,832. Province No. 2 has reported 20,607 cases with 210 deaths, Bagmati Province has reported 140,346 cases with 896 deaths, Lumbini Province has reported 28,566 cases with 226 deaths, Sudurpaschim Province has reported 13,974 cases with 55 deaths, Province No. 1 has reported 29,736 cases with 214 deaths, Karnali Pradesh has reported 6,387 cases with 25 deaths, and Gandaki Province has reported 16,976 cases with 182 deaths. According to the health ministry, there are 6,396 active cases of infection in the country while 251,312 people have made a recovery.

Five individuals arriving from the UK test positive for COVID-19: According to reports, five individuals who had recently arrived in Nepal from the United Kingdom have tested positive for the virus. However, whether the new variant has been detected in the individuals or not is yet to be confirmed. The government has recently announced restrictions on individuals travelling to or from the UK. The new variant is said to be 70% more infectious than the other discovered strains.

Health ministry says, expect another wave of COVID-19 infections: Public health officials have warned that another wave of infections is likely to occur in three weeks. They have argued that this is inevitable as people are not following safety protocols. Experts have also said that it is imperative for authorities to begin preparing for such a scenario and surveillance and safety measures should be stepped up. . They have also stressed the importance of quarantine facilities that have been mostly closed.  However, the government has placed the responsibility of curbing the spread of the virus with the public without any mechanism to monitor those infected.

Nepal requests India for procurement of vaccines: According to reports, the government of Nepal has made a request to the Indian government for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines that would cover around 20% of Nepal’s population. Last month, the government sent diplomatic notes to countries like India, Russia, China, USA, and UK whose vaccines have either completed the third phase trials or are near their completion. Nepal will pay for the vaccines procured through the Indian government. It has also been estimated that vaccinating 52% of the Nepali population will cost around Rs 48 billion.

Forest fire in Pathivara Temple are uncontrollable: According to reports, a forest fire near Pathivara temple in Taplejung has gone out of control and is now threatening the existence of the historic temple. A team of Nepal Army, Nepal Police, and Armed Police Force was mobilized along with a helicopter in efforts to bring the fire under control and protect the temple. However, the forest fire that started on Thursday is yet to be contained.

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