News Digest – National Security (May 6–12)

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Empty cylinders being sent to Pokhara from Dhawalagiri Hospital Baglung to fill oxygen. Photo: RSS

According to the Health Ministry, as of May 12, Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 413,111 and the death tally has reached 4,084. There are 97,008 active cases of infection in the country while 312,019 people have made a recovery. The Ministry recorded 9,483 new cases and 225 deaths on May 11.

Despite the Prime Minister’s claim that the situation in Nepal is under control, Nepal’s health system is buckling under the pressure of the second wave of Covid-19 infections. The rising number of infections has created a shortage of oxygen, drugs like remdesivir, and other hospital resources that are required for the treatment of Covid-19. According to reports, even private hospitals in Kathmandu like Nepal Mediciti Hospital needs 400-500 oxygen cylinders a day. However, the government only supplies a 100 cylinders. Amid reports of oxygen shortage and hospitals turning away patients, manufacturers have said that the demand has been overwhelming and has gone up four times their production capacity.

Nepal’s failure to procure vaccines from elsewhere after India halted export of vaccines to meet demands at home also halted on Nepal’s vaccination drive. However, reports say that the second round of Covid-19 vaccination drive is likely to begin on May 15 wherein individuals will be administered with ‘Vero Cell’ vaccines donated by China.

The situation in Nepal is unraveling quick as the country records over 9,000 cases of new infections daily. This has also created an acute shortage of oxygen required for the treatment of patients. The situation is so dire that Nepal is also short on oxygen cylinders and is now making an appeal to mountain climbers to bring back empty cylinders instead of abandoning them on the mountain. Individuals are losing their lives as private and community hospitals all over the country are overwhelmed and unable to meet demands for oxygen.

As Covid-19 cases continue to dramatically surge in Nepal, the government has decided to extend the lockdown in the Kathmandu valley and other districts identified as hotspots by another 2 weeks. The government has also extended restrictions on international flights till 31 May. Currently, Nepal is seeing over 9,000 new cases of infections daily.

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