"a horrifying preview of Nepal’s future"
Nepal could be the next country to see a Covid-19 crisis as severe as India’s.
Nepal, which shares a border with India, is currently struggling to contain a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases.
Now, fears are growing that their situation could escalate to be as bad, if not worse, than neighbouring India.
Nepal’s health officials have warned that the country is on the brink of losing control of its virus outbreak.
As a result, Nepal has appealed for urgent international help.
Citizens previously criticised Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli for his handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
But he has now asked the army for their help in managing emergency facilities, to relieve some of the strain currently on the healthcare system.
Oli has also appealed for vaccines from other countries around the world, following official warnings that those who have received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine are in urgent need of a second one.
Nepal recently reported its highest daily number of new infections, with more than 9,000 new cases on Thursday, May 6, 2021.
Serious outbreaks of the virus have hit the country’s capital, Kathmandu, and the west and southwest areas of the country.
Just like in India, Nepal’s vaccine supplies are short and hospitals are struggling, with the national positivity rate reaching 47%.
The sudden surge in Covid-19 cases is partly due to people queuing for hours in Kathmandu. This is the result of the Nepalese government’s questionable vaccination campaign.
The government allowing a series of religious festivals also contributed to the spread of the virus.
Kathmandu is one of Nepal’s worst-hit areas, as well as Nepalgunj in the Banke district, close to the border with India’s state of Uttar Pradesh.
According to officials, Nepal could face a catastrophe if action is not taken.
Netra Prasad Timsina, Chair of the Nepal Red Cross Society, said:
“What is happening in India right now is a horrifying preview of Nepal’s future if we cannot contain this latest Covid surge that is claiming more lives by the minute.”
Nepal has fewer doctors per capita than India, and its healthcare system is not as strong.
Therefore, cases in the country have increased from 100 to 8,000 a day in just one month.
Speaking of Nepal’s almost-uncontrollable Covid-19 situation, Nripendra Khatri of Catholic Relief Services said:
“In Kathmandu, many people are staying home now because of how fast the virus is spreading.
“At the same time, there are long lines in hospitals and pharmacies.
“Because of the lockdown in major cities, access to transportation and medicines is also affected.
“Cremation centres around the country are filling up fast, and family members are unable to properly perform last rites.
“Nepal is a difficult place for logistics, especially for specialised medical equipment.”
“Our country is landlocked and supplies often come overland from India, but right now India needs all of its medical equipment.
“That means everything must come through airports, and all commercial flights have been suspended except for two flights a week to Delhi, India.
“Once supplies reach Kathmandu they have to fan out – across a country of mountains. Many places are only accessible on dirt roads or by foot.
“Responding to this crisis and ensuring remote villages have access to tests and supplies will be a massive undertaking.”
Nepal’s population is around 30 million people. However, the country only has around 1,600 intensive care beds and less than 600 ventilators.
The country’s hospitals are becoming more and more overwhelmed, and there are only 0.7 doctors per 100,000 people, lower than India’s rate.