The total number of people infected with coronavirus in Nepal has cross 700,000 and the number of deaths is fast approaching the 10,000 mark.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, with few exceptions, the confirmation rate has not dropped below 20 percent. That is, among tests conducted in 100 people, an average of 20 people are confirmed to have been infected daily.
According to Tuesday’s figures, more than 22 percent of the samples tested within 24 hours came as COVID-19 positive.
Mutations of the highly contagious Delta variant have recently been confirmed in Nepal, raising further concerns about the pandemic.
Infection and death in South Asia
A total of 31,695,958 people were infected with COVID-19 in India as of Tuesday morning, while 424,773 people have died of the contagion so far, according to Johns Hopkins University.
After India, a total of 1,280,317 cases have been confirmed in Bangladesh so far and 21,162 people have lost their lives.
The total number of infections in Pakistan stands at 1,043,277 and 23,529 people have died.
In Nepal, 2,448 new cases of coronavirus infection and 24 deaths were reported in the country on Tuesday. With this, Nepal’s COVID caseload has reached 702,097, including 9,922 deaths.
According to Johns Hopkins University, a total of 316,219 people have been infected and 4,645 have died in Sri Lanka so far.
In Afghanistan, 148,572 people have been infected and 6,804 have died. A total of 77,633 people have been infected and 221 have died in the Maldives.
Bhutan has the lowest number of infections and deaths among South Asian countries. Only 2,532 people have been infected so far, and two have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Among the South Asian countries, Bangladesh currently has the highest transition rate.
Bangladesh, which is currently experiencing a third wave, has a confirmation rate of 30 per cent, according to BBC Bangla.
In the last few weeks in Nepal, the infection rate has been confirmed between 19 to 23 percent, according to the Ministry of Health.
Pakistan, which is facing the fourth wave of the COVID-19, now has an average infection rate of 8 percent nationwide, according to BBC Urdu.
Though India had the highest number of daily infections and deaths in the world until a few weeks ago, the rate is in decline in India of late.
According to the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the COVID-19 infection rate has been less than five percent recently.
What experts say about the situation in Nepal
Experts have expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of infection control and prevention as well as vaccination program in Nepal.
BBC Nepali quoted former Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division Dr Basudev Pandey as saying, “The fact that the infection rate is still 20 per cent means that Nepal’s situation is most critical in South Asia.”
“It shows that Nepal’s COVID situation is not in control. The infection rate should be below five percent, as it is now in India, for us to call the situation in control.”
Similarly, Infectious Disease Specialist Dr Anoop Subedi said that the government had faltered in conducting enough tests. “As the country’s infection rate is more 20 percent, it indicates that very few people are being tested.”
“This means that the number of daily infections will continue to rise until 90 to 95 percent of the total population is infected,” he added.
What should Nepal do now?
Experts suggest adhering to public health standards as well as expanding testing and vaccination program.
“Either the vaccination campaign needs to be expanded or enough high-risk groups need to be vaccinated in priority. Only then will we be successful in curbing the contagion,” said Infectious Diseases Specialist Subedi.
Pandey, former director of the Division of Epidemiology and Disease Control, stressed on the need to adopt precautionary measures keeping in mind the possibility of further infection in the coming days.
“As the festive season is fast approaching, the government should ready private hospitals to tackle the burden,” he said.
The experts expressed overall concern that people were neglecting public health protocols ever since the prohibitory orders were eased.
“The prohibitory orders were eased not because the infection rate dipped, but to keep the economy afloat and make life easier for people. The people as well as the government need to understand this.”