KATHMANDU, June 7: With the recent increase in COVID-19 infections in India, doctors point out the possibility of an increment of cases in Nepal as well. Nepal may witness an increase in COVID-19 cases in the forthcoming weeks, says Dr Chuman Lal Das, the Director of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD), Ministry of Health.
Dr Das says that since there has been a trend of a rapid spread of the virus in the country two/three weeks after the rise of COVID-19 infections in India, it is plausible that the same may continue this time too. According to the Ministry of Health and Population, 21 additional infections were confirmed on Monday making the total number of active COVID-19 cases in the country 109.
Dr Das mentions that the COVID-19 testing of passengers entering Nepal through the border has been stricter following the rise of infections in India. “We have not stopped people from entering or exiting the country. Cases have been found among those entering from the border after the testing was made stricter,” says Dr Das.
He adds that keeping in view a possible increase in the coronavirus infections in the country, hospitals providing treatment for the disease have been asked to keep themselves prepared. He says that those confirmed with the infection amongst the people that came from India were sent to the National Public Health Laboratory for gene sequencing but the reports were yet to be received. He discloses that the infections were from the Omicron variant.
According to Dr Das, since the virus is of the Omicron variant, the rise in infection cases would not bring a catastrophic circumstance. However, he has urged those that have not been vaccinated yet to get vaccinated as soon as possible as they are prone to be affected more by the possible spread.
Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, the coordinator of the research branch at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, says while COVID-19 cases in Nepal will continue to rise and fall, it is unlikely that we will have to witness a situation where our hospitals become full like before.
“Many people in Nepal have been vaccinated and many have already contracted the virus which is why the spread might not have a significant effect,” said Dr Pun. He believes that the likelihood of a spread of the virus where the infected have to get hospitalized is less.
According to Dr Meghnath Dhimal, the Head of Research at Nepal Health Research Council, the number of critically ill patients is likely to be fewer even if the virus spreads. “It is not going to be like the second wave,” he said.
A large number of people in Nepal have been infected by the virus and/or have been vaccinated. As much as 90 percent of the population has already developed antibodies against COVID-19; thence the possible spread of the virus may not have a serious impact.
However, since the new variant may infect even those who have been vaccinated, the EDCD suggests everyone follow the public health standards. Dr Das requests everyone to continue wearing a mask, maintaining distance and avoiding large gatherings.