Nepal was amongst the first country to start the vaccination drive on 27th Jan 2021 with the AstraZeneca vaccine and to date, 1.5% of the total population has been vaccinated.
Amidst the burgeoning COVID-19 cases in Nepal including the capital, on April 26, 2021, the Government announced a lockdown in Kathmandu and the surrounding valleys. The lockdown, which was initially imposed for 15 days has been extended further till midnight of 31st May 2021. The positive cases were as high as 60 percent of the total test (6K-8K test per day) which probed the government to announce the lockdown in order to break the chain. The testing has been increased exponentially (19K-23K per day) while the convicted cases now are in between 15 – 20 percent of the total tests. With the enforcement of the lockdown which is existent in almost every district in the country following suit with the lockdown, the cases are plateauing and the spread has been minimized to some extent.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal and the Government have also banned all international flights till 31st May 2021 and the ban will likely be extended. Additionally, all domestic flights have been canceled until further notice but cargo, rescue, and special flights will be operated subject to special permission from CAAN. Two flights each week, from and to India have been permitted to run till 31st May 2021 and it’s believed to be halted after that. With more than 80 percentages of tests coming positive at the Nepal India border, the government has also decided to stop all movement across the border except for cargo and other essential vehicles. We believe all these measures have helped in reducing COVID along with infection to escalate in Nepal.
Referring COVID cases and infection, out of 19,539 RT-PCR and 344 antigen tests on Sunday 7368 are positive. As many as 6648 people recovered have been discharged from the hospital while 145 have died in the last 24 hours as per the Ministry’s data. So far, 339,756 people have recovered from the disease in the country whereas 5001 have died. In total 2,771,020 PCR tests have been done as of Sunday 16 May wherein, there are 110,263 active cases of infection in the country while 701 people are under quarantine. The hospitals in Nepal are having a hard time handling such high volume of infected patients being overwhelmed. Most of the infected and positive cases are being advised to stay in-home quarantine. Only patients with severe symptoms needing immediate medical assistance are admitted to the hospital. Shortage of oxygen has also been observed in many hospitals. Although most of the big hospitals in the valley and other major cities operate their own plant to produce oxygen nevertheless, with a higher demand of supplement oxygen, the plants at the hospitals are having a tough time.
Hope is the most important aspect today as we see a light at the end of the tunnel. Nepal was amongst the first country to start the vaccination drive on 27th Jan 2021 with the AstraZeneca vaccine and to date, 1.5% of the total population has been vaccinated. The first phase of the drive was conducted from 27th Jan - 7th Feb 2021, while the second phase was conducted from 7th March - 15th March 2021. The second dose for the first drive was administered from 20th - 24th April 2021 in the nation. From 16th May - 25th May the government will be initiating the second dose of the Sinopharm vaccine from China which is already in action since yesterday. As per the Government data released on 12 May 2021, a total of 2.47M people have received their first jab whereas 370K their second dose. With the second dose of the Sinopharm vaccine, Nepal is looking to add around 350K to its fully vaccinated numbers.
The vaccine procurement from Serum Institute of India is in a standstill for the moment with the rising cases in India itself. Nonetheless, the government is working on procuring vaccines from other countries while the deal is understood to be in the final stages. Nepal has been adding more beds for COVID patients in the last few weeks with hospitals being encouraged to operate its own oxygen plants wherein a few have added new plants in their hospitals as well. Grants and supports are pouring in from all over the world with China being the latest providing 20K oxygen cylinders to Nepal to fight against COVID. 18K cylinders are said to have reached the Tatopani checkpoint at the border of Nepal and China on 16 May 2021 which is enthralling.
There is no doubt that the cases are rising in Nepal spreading like wildfire especially in the major cities. However, just looking at the test numbers and the infected numbers doesn’t really unfold the inside story. We agree that we are facing the second wave of the virus which has taken us by surprise, but it's still very much under control as the spread is not as severe as it has been portrayed in the news media around the world. Most people who go in for a test are either having some COVID symptoms or have been in contact with a COVID positive person which has most likely connected the person to test positive too. Despite of all odds, only 15-20 percentage of total examination have tested positive. We firmly believe, with the lockdown being administered halting the movement around the country, the spread will plateau minimizing the loss. Coupled with the vaccination drives and precautionary measures, we believe that we will overcome this pandemic together.