KATHMANDU, Oct 21: The COVID-19 death rate and air pollution are found directly proportional to each other, which means higher the air pollution higher the death rate.
Various international studies have shown that air pollution contributes to the increase in COVID-19 death rate.
Since both the air pollution and the COVID-19 affect mostly the respiratory system of the human body, these two are found very much related to one another.
Kathmandu Valley has been witnessing high levels of air pollution during the winter season. Experts are grappling with the fear of witnessing a surge in COVID-19 death rate in the Valley this winter if the measures to minimize the air pollution are not taken.
A research conducted by Harvard University of the United State of America concluded that the COVID-19 death rate increases by eight percent, if the Particulate Matter (PM 2.5) in the air increases by 1 unit. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is an air pollutant that is a concern for people's health when levels in air are high. PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated.
In recent days, as a result of lockdown and implementation of odd-even rule in vehicles operation, air pollution in the Kathmandu Valley has been comparatively reduced. However, the air quality in Hetauda, Dang, Pokhara, Bharatpur and Mahendranagar on Tuesday were found unhealthy for human health, according to the Department of Environment.
Lack of effective plans and policies to minimize the air pollution in major cities of the country has added extra threat to public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Both the virus and the air pollution affect human lungs. Use of face masks has prevented dust and other harmful particles from entering the human body but only the mask won’t help. The government must come up with effective plans and policies,” said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, epidemiologist at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital.
According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016, as many as 10,000 people lost their lives in the capital city every year because of pollution.
Likewise, an international campaign called Breathlife initiated by WHO, UN Environment, and Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) highlighted that as many as 37,399 people died in Nepal every year due to various kinds of pollution.
Kathmandu Valley has been listed as one of the ten most polluted cities in the world.