News Digest – National Security & Climate Change (January 7 – January 13, 2021)

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Nepal’s COVID-19 tally reaches 265,268 as death toll reaches 1925: According to the health ministry, as of January 13, Nepal’s COVID-19 tally stands at 265,268 and the death tally has reached 1,925. There are 4,375 active cases of infection in the country while 258,968 people have made a recovery. Nationwide infection count advances to 265,268 with 430 additional cases in a day as Nepal reported 430 additional cases on January 12. Out of 430 cases, 259 infections were reported from Kathmandu. According to the health ministry, 5,300 PCR tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. 

Experts say Nepal should appeal to more countries for vaccines: According to reports, the government of Nepal is considering signing an agreement on procuring vaccines manufactured in India to vaccinate 52% of Nepal’s population. However, experts have said that Nepal should not rely so heavily on one country and diversify its sources. They argue that any country manufacturing vaccines will only cater to other countries after they have enough doses to vaccinate their own population.

Authorities still unsure if new variant has entered Nepal: Authorities had taken samples from the UK returnees who later tested positive for the virus. However, they are unsure if any of the infected have contracted the new variant which was first identified in the UK. The new variant has surfaced in many other countries since then and Nepali authorities are still unsure if it has reached Nepal. According to the Health Ministry, the National Public Health Laboratory has been directed to send samples to the WHO’s collaborating center for tests due to a lack of capacity in the country.

Seroprevalance study data yet to be made public: According to reports, the nationwide seroprevalence study carried out in September reportedly showed that around 13% of the country’s population was infected with COVID-19 until September 2020. According to the director at Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, the Health Ministry asked him not to disclose the findings of the COVID-19 seroprevalence study to the public and demanded another large scale study. The report is yet to be made public.

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