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Second Wave of COVID-19 Ravages Nepal

Nepal, which had somehow escaped destruction during the first wave has seen a dramatic resurgence of the COVID-19 virus since late March.

The rate of daily infections started to increase in April 2021 and more than 9000 new cases were recorded on May 18.  As per World Health Organisation (WHO) data, Nepal has recorded 46,218 confirmed cases and 5215 deaths so far. The United State Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4, highest level travel advisory for Nepal. 

Speculations of returning migrant workers bringing the virus from India are making rounds in common discourse. Many in Nepal have blamed the crisis on mismanagement and mishandeling due to the political crisis.

Kathmandu and other affected areas are in lockdown till May 27. Nepal has halted the vaccination program amidst the vaccination shortage. In Jan 2021, Nepal started vaccinating its citizens, however, the shortage of vaccines accentuated due to the halt of vaccine export from India and other countries. In March 2021, India had gifted around 1 lakh vaccine doses to Nepal’s Military.

Nepal’s situation has become similar to its neighbour India where the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the country. In India, the shortage of medicines and life saving equipment oaralyed the healthcare system of the country. Citizens of India resorted to seeking help from social media peeling for medicines and beds.

Recently,  WHO’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, had expressed concerns about the crisis in South Asian Countries like India and Nepal.

“India remains hugely concerning. But it’s not only India that has emergency needs. Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt are just some of the countries that are dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalizations,” said  Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in an earlier news briefing.

The COVID-19 has severely affected Nepal’s economy and its efforts to promote the country as a tourist destination. In 2020, Nepal had to cancel its “Visit Nepal” program and Visit Nepal Year. This year also, the second wave has dwindled Nepal’s hopes for reopening the country. The virus has even affected the base camp at Mt. Everest where climbers are awaiting the ascent to the world’s tallest mountain.

Many countries have come to the aid of Nepal. China has sent  400 oxygen cylinders, 160 oxygen concentrators and 10 ventilators to Nepal. India, which is struggling itself with shortage of life saving equipment like oxygen, has assured Nepal of oxygen supply.

“India will continue helping and assisting Nepal at the hour of crisis. 2.3 million doses of Covishield vaccine have already been delivered. Within another 8 to 10 days, tankers with liquid oxygen would arrive in Nepal,” said India’s Ambassador to Nepal Vinay Mohan Kwatra in a virtual event.