News Digest – National Security (April 29 – May 5)

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Health workers taking a dead body to the Bagmati river (Photo: RSS)

According to the Health Ministry, as of May 5, Nepal’s Covid-19 tally stands at 351,005 and the death tally has reached 3,417. There are 59,798 active cases of infection in the country while 287,790 people have made a recovery. The Health Ministry recorded 7,660 new cases and 55 deaths on May 4.

The Health Ministry has been reporting over 7000 new cases in a single day and has announced 216 deaths in the month of April alone. The second wave of infections has struck Nepal with experts suggesting that the more infectious variants of the virus from across the border have caused the sudden surge in numbers. Despite worsening conditions across the country, authorities have failed to enforce safety protocols and improve the capacity of our health system. Public health experts say that the government’s sporadic response and complacency at various levels have allowed the situation to get out of control.

PM Oli has announced that all government and private hospitals, as well as medical colleges, will be turned into Covid-19 treatment centers as Nepal experiences a dramatic surge in Covid-19 infections. According to statistics provided by the Health Ministry, the number of individuals requiring ICU and ventilator care has increased exponentially over the past two weeks. The ministry had already warned that hospitals were overwhelmed, also advising individuals to isolate at home if and as long as symptoms did not deteriorate. However, reports say that local municipalities and wards have been setting up isolation centers and oxygen-equipped spaces for those seeking treatment.

Authorities have been unsuccessful in diversifying Nepal’s sources of vaccines. Currently, Nepal needs at least 1.6 million doses of Covishield vaccines to administer the second shots to individuals who had been vaccinated in the first phase of the vaccination drive. With India imposing restrictions on the export of vaccines to meet demands at home, it is unsure as to when Nepal will receive additional doses of vaccines. This also led to the suspension of the vaccination drive in April. On 3 May, PM Oli made an appeal to foreign donors to supply Nepal with vaccines as the country’s health system buckles under the pressure of the second wave.

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