News Digest – National Security & Climate Change (October 8 -14)

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Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 115358 as death toll reaches 663: As of October 14, Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 115358 and the death tally has reached 663. According to the health ministry, there are 35915 active cases of infection in the country while 78780 people have made a recovery. Province No. 2 reported 16270 cases with 142 deaths, Bagmati Pradesh reported 51,996 cases with 273 deaths, Lumbini Pradesh reported 14,055 cases with 95 deaths, Sudurpaschim Pradesh reported 8497 cases with 14 deaths, Province No. 1 reported 10,729 cases with 80 deaths, Karnali Pradesh reported 4488 cases with 7 deaths, and Gandaki Pradesh reported 5767 cases with 34 deaths.

Dr. Govinda KC breaks hunger strike after deal with government: Dr. Govinda KC who had started his 19th hunger strike on September 14, broke his longest fast unto death on October 11 after an 8-point deal was made with the government. He had made various demands related to medical education and according to reports, the government has agreed to address most. To break his hunger strike, the orthopedic surgeon took a sip of juice at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Maharajgunj.

Nepal to close border with India until November 15: A cabinet meeting held on October 12 has decided that Nepal’s international borders with India will be closed until November 15. The decision comes amidst growing threat of the spread of Covid-19 and surging number of cases in both Nepal and India. However, the decision to close the borders will not apply to the cross border movement of cargo vehicles from designated entry points. Before the latest decision, border points had remained open for Nepali nationals returning home from 10 designated points. The international flights between Nepal and India are also yet to resume.

Government’s decision to remove restrictions on public vehicles draws criticism: The government’s decision to relax restrictions on public vehicles, including allowing buses to carry passengers in full capacity of the vehicle has drawn criticism. This decision has been criticized by activists, doctors, and local authorities who argue that it is an irresponsible and illogical decision that will only worsen current conditions. Covid-19 cases in the valley have continued to spike and removing restrictions on public vehicles are bound to expedite the spread of the virus.

Nepal re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council: Nepal has been re-elected a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) with 150 votes. Nepal has been a member of the HRC since January 2018 and is set to serve a consecutive three year 2021-2023 term. Permanent Representative of Nepal to the United Nations, Amrit Bahadur Rai said that “Nepal’s re-election as the international community’s acknowledgement of our progressive journey on political and human rights fronts”.

Government hospitals in the capital to be turned into Covid-19 hospitals: At a time when the number of cases in the valley have been surging in the thousands, the government has announced its decision to convert all government hospitals in the capital to Covid-19 hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients. The government has also instructed hospitals to prioritize Covid-19 patients and only attend to emergency cases and surgeries due to the lack of beds, intensive care units, and ventilators.

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