The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Wednesday warned about the worrying surge in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in Nepal. The Himalayan nation, which shares an extensive border with India, is reporting around 230 daily confirmed Covid-19 cases per million people, a similar number India was reporting two weeks ago.
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,” Dr Netra Prasad Timsina, chair of the Nepal Red Cross, said in a statement.
Across Nepal, 44% of Covid-19 tests returned positive results last weekend, according to government authorities quoted by IFRC. The global humanitarian network highlighted that many hospitals in Nepal, especially southern towns near Indian borders, are full and overflowing with Covid-19 patients. It further warned about the “grave fears of mass deaths” if the coronavirus continues spreading unchecked across the country.
According to IFRC, Nepal is recording 57 times more cases than this time last month when the country was reporting less than five daily cases per million people. On Wednesday, Nepal registered over 8,600 new cases of Covid-19, the highest since the start of the pandemic.
“It is beyond distressing to see that people cannot say goodbye to their loved ones as cremations are taking place at record levels due to these new Covid variants, which are striking down people of all ages in Nepal,” Dr Timsina stated.The humanitarian aid organisation noted that other neighbours of India like Bangladesh and Pakistan have also been severely impacted by another wave driven by new variants. Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific director for the IFRC, stressed that though all eyes are currently on India, other countries across South Asia may be facing the same in the coming weeks.
We need to act now and we need to act fast to have any hope of containing this human catastrophe. This virus has no respect for borders and these variants are running rampant across Asia,” said Matheou.
Nepal has fewer doctors per capita than India, as per the global health observatory of the World Health Organization (WHO), and also has a lower vaccination rate than its neighbour. As of April 28, only about 7% of the Nepali population had been administered with at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has urged foreign donors to supply vaccines and critical care medicines to prevent a collapse of the country’s health infrastructure. Dr Samir Adhikari, a spokesperson for Nepal’s ministry of health and population, on Monday said that the situation in the country is worsening every day and “may go out of control in future.”