Nepal, India’s neighbour to the north, is facing a similar Covid-19 crisis with a 1200% increase in new infections, triggering hospital shortages. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the government had said that 44% of Covid-19 tests administered in Nepal had come back positive last weekend. The country is reporting about 20 new cases per 100,000 people, a statistic similar to what India had 2 weeks previously. But the alarming testing numbers indicate that there may be a lot more Covid-19 infections that haven’t been identified yet.
With 28 million people, Nepal has a lower vaccination rate than India and also fewer doctors per capita than its large neighbour. Many attribute the new wave of Covid-19 infections in Nepal to its long and insecure border with India, allowing the crisis there to spill over across the border. Many Indians have crossed over into Nepal to escape the crisis in their country, hoping to get medical treatment in Nepal or to use it as a hopping off point to another country.
Nepal likely has the topographically highest outbreak of Covid-19 in the world, as 17 cases have been confirmed at Mount Everest Base Camp 5364 metres above sea level, according to base camp officials. May usually has a small window of 10 to 15 days for weather suitable to ascend the world’s highest peak, but Covid-19 symptoms are cropping up in people preparing for the climb.
A population reluctant or lazy to take strong action against the Covid-19 outbreak in Nepal along with slow government response to the pandemic have been blamed for the current spread. Festivals, large traditional weddings, political events, and mass public gatherings have all contributed to the country’s dire situation. Nepal’s Red Cross chairperson looked at India as a harbinger of what to come.
“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.”
The Ministry of Health and Population said this week that the Covid-19 situation in Nepal is getting worse and worse each day and may spiral out of control soon. The country has attempted to strengthen security at the borders and has now imposed lockdowns in Kathmandu and some of the hardest-hit areas. But now hospitals are becoming overwhelmed with an influx of new Covid-19 patients and are struggling to care for those in need. Nepal is now pleading for medical aid from other countries as their Covid-19 pandemic worsens.