News Digest – National Security & Environment (June 17 – 23)

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According to reports, as of June 16, Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 654,470 and the death tally has reached 8,813. There are 52,648 active cases of infection in the country while 564,882 people have made a recovery. The country recorded 4,522 new cases and 41 deaths on June 22.

Due to the incessant rains in the past few days, the Nepal Army has been using manpower and resources in various districts affected by floods, landslides and inundation in Melamchi Bazaar of Sindhupalchowk district to help evacuate goods from 11 houses destroyed or flooded. Photo: RSS

The onset of Monsoon has led rivers and streams to swell up, wreaking chaos across Nepal. According to reports, districts like Palpa, Manang, Pyuthan, Syangja, Lamjung, and Bajura have been hit hard, Sindhupalchok district appears to be the most affected, with hundreds of houses under water. The Melamchi River gushed into markets and settlements, destroying houses, displacing thousands of people, with several missing and some possibly dead. Local authorities have said that besides the rainfall, plundering of the area for its resources is also to blame.

Meteorologists are saying that mountain districts such as Manang have been receiving heavy rainfall and even flooding, despite being a dry region. According to experts, the rainfall patterns during the pre-monsoon months of March to May need to be analysed in order to understand the reason behind the unprecedented phenomenon. The devastation from rains in the mountain district has surprised meteorologists.

According to reports, the highly infectious new AY.1 variant of Covid-19 has been detected in swabs of infected individuals collected by The National Public Health Laboratory from May 9 to June 3 from various places across the country. Earlier in May, highly infectious sub-lineages B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.1 were confirmed in Nepal and found responsible for a new surge in the infection.

Experts in countries like the UK and India have warned the possibility of a third coronavirus wave by October. Such news comes as a major concern for Nepal, given low vaccination coverage, the government’s lack of efforts to diversify sources of vaccines, and the complacency of the general public. The country is still struggling to contain the second wave of the pandemic and authorities are unprepared in the face of the threat of a third wave. Experts have said that while extending the lockdown is not a viable option, it is critical that we ramp up tests and strictly adhere to safety protocols.

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