News Digest – National Security (May 20 – 26)

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According to reports, as of May 25, Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 528,848 and the death tally has reached 6,700. There are 117,261 active cases of infection in the country while 404,887 people have made a recovery. The Ministry recorded 8,387 new cases and 169 deaths on May 25.

The fact that Nepal has been facing a shortage in supply of medical equipment, beds, and oxygen has been in headlines for the past few weeks. However, reports are saying that Nepal is now also in a human resource crisis. According to reports, hospitals with the capacity to provide intensive care to patients such as Manmohan Memorial Medical College and Teaching Hospital at Swayambhu are unable to provide the service due to the lack of critical care experts. Therefore, vital health equipment like ventilators remain unused because there are no anesthesiologists to operate them.

A Ministry of Health and Population representative has stated that the government has decided to widen the gap between the first and second vaccine jab to 12-16 weeks, in line with the Indian government’s decision. Nepal has been unsuccessful in procuring vaccines to give second doses to the elderly population that had received their first dose in the second week of March, after India imposed restrictions on the export of vaccines to meet domestic demands. However, Nepali authorities are still unsure whether the vaccine will be available even within the extended deadline. Furthermore, the COVAX facility that had been the only hope for Nepal also communicated that it would not be able to provide vaccines before next year. According to the statement, in the meantime, they have requested Nepal to look for options elsewhere.

The prohibitory orders in the valley was initially imposed on April 29 for a week. However, it was continued through the Month of May and has once again been extended up to June 3. According to reports, in addition to the previous orders, the chief district officers have ordered the closure of groceries including grocery sections of department stores, but vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and meat shops would be allowed to open until 9 am every day. Furthermore, the vehicles of government offices, public utilities, and internet service providers will be allowed to operate between 9:30 and 10:30 in the morning, and between 5 and 6 in the evening.

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