With Positivity Rate At 44%, Nepal Stares At Covid Catastrophe


Nepal is in the grips of a devastating second wave of the coronavirus. While India’s second coronavirus wave alarmed the world, the situation is just as dire in Nepal, prompting the United Nations Health chief to express worry about the country’s unfolding crisis.

Nepal’s daily case trajectory has shot up, with two out of five people tested now returning positive. The country’s weak health system has been overwhelmed by the sudden spike. Thousands of coronavirus patients have lost their lives due to the lack of oxygen. Coronavirus spirals out of control in the country. The virus is spreading rapidly, with more than 8,000 new cases being reported in recent days, and less than 10 percent of Nepalis are fully vaccinated.  Nepal Friday reported 8,607 new cases of COVID-19 along with 177 fatalities related to the disease. The coronavirus cases have surged by more than 1,200% in recent weeks.  

Hospitals in Kathmandu are flooded with coronavirus patients who are lying on the ground gasping for oxygen. Many private and community hospitals have refused to take any more patients due to a lack of oxygen. The fragile health system of Nepal cracked under the strain of surging coronavirus cases.

“The situation is frightening and out of control,” said Roman Pandit, a doctor at a hospital in Kathmandu, the capital of the country. He said that the hospital is flooded with patients requiring ventilators and intensive care. ‘I have never seen such a helpless situation before. Every day, more people are dying and I am helpless.”

Nepalgunj, a city that borders India, has witnessed a sharp surge in new coronavirus cases. An average of 10 people die due to Covid-19 every 24 hours in the district, according to local reports in media. The situation is frightening and out of control,” Prakash Thapa, a doctor at Bheri hospital in Nepalgunj told local media. He said that the hospital is flooded with patients requiring ventilators and intensive care.

 Now, the Himalayan country of 30 million people is even more helpless than India. The data tracking site of Oxford University shows a staggering 668% increase in confirmed Coronavirus cases in the two weeks to 1 May, compared with the previous fortnight. Similarly, the Red Cross reported that, nationally, 44% of all tests were positive.

 Nepal currently has only 1,600 ICU beds and fewer than 600 ventilators with just 0.7 doctors per 100,000 people, according to the report of ActionAid Nepal. The country doesn’t have the resources to produce its oxygen and the oxygen shipment has been halted due to the border closure.

In an effort to prevent the rise in coronavirus cases, the government enforced prohibitory orders from April 29 and ban all national flights from May 3 and international flights from May 6 amid rising cases of coronavirus. Still the cases and coronavirus cases and related fatalities continue to surge.

Nepal ordered 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, produced by India in February. Only half of the order arrived and Nepal continued its vaccination drive. Another neighbor, China also pledged 80,000 doses of vaccines which took time to arrive. Then, as India was hit by the second wave of the virus, it halted the vaccine exports citing its growing demand at home.

Now, as the devastating second wave of the coronavirus has hit the country, the government of Nepal has intensified its efforts to acquire vaccines from the countries like the US, UK, China, and Russia.

Nepal urgently needs at least 1.6 million AstraZeneca vaccines to administer the second shot. Recently, Prime Minister K.P.Sharma Oli urged foreign donors to supply vaccines and medicines to prevent a collapse of the health infrastructure of the country. Oli urged neighbors, international donors, organizations, and friendly nations to help with the vaccines.

People of Nepal recently launched an online petition demanding that the US provide vaccines as the country struggles to contain the devastating second wave. “With only 4 percent of the population vaccinated and with India deep in crisis, it is unlikely that Nepal will receive more vaccines from what was previously its primary source,” the petition states. “We, therefore, request that the United States government immediately release at least 12 million doses of vaccine to the Government of Nepal to assist it in protecting the population. The White House last month said that the US would be sharing 60 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines with the world once it clears federal safety reviews.

 Nepal now is on the brink of an unprecedented disaster. Every day, the mortality rate due to coronavirus continues to spike. Nepal is in a war zone and it is helpless. Countries like the USA, UK, and other international communities should help Nepal. Nepal urgently needs vaccines and medicines from foreign donors, or else the cataclysm will engulf the country.


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