“It is strange why the number of tests is decreasing as the cases decrease. Instead, the government must conduct as many tests as possible while the cases are decreasing to detect every last case and reduce the rate of transmission.”
KATHMANDU, July 8: Most of the countries – American and European – are gradually getting back to normal, lifting COVID-19 measures after vaccinating almost the entire population but the case is entirely different in Nepal.
As of Wednesday, only 851,300 people have received both shots of COVID-19 vaccines and 2,611,807 people have received only a single dose of the vaccines, according to the Ministry of Health and Population. Roughly, only four percent of the population is fully vaccinated against the disease in Nepal.
In recent days, the number of new cases of COVID-19 has been declining slightly and this seems to have prompted the government to lift the COVID-19 restrictions in the Kathmandu Valley where lies the country’s federal capital. Public vehicles have been allowed to resume their services. Shopping malls, stores and other public places can now remain open. People are seen defying COVID-19 measures largely. And, the authorities concerned seem completely unaware about it as there is almost no monitoring.
If the government does not act immediately and wisely, Nepal will soon be hit by the third wave of COVID-19, say virologists and experts.
“Infection in a large population creates a favorable condition for a virus for mutation. We have already been largely hit by the Delta and Delta plus variants of COVID-19. So it is likely that our health system will soon be devastated by another wave, if we don’t act wisely,” said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, a virologist at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital at Teku in the capital.
Dr Pun also maintained that the government did not make any preparation when the country was under the prohibitory orders. “While the pandemic was somehow under control, the government should have equipped hospitals, conducted mass testing and vaccinated its people,” he added.
“Similarly, we don’t have any data regarding the number of people infected with the Delta variant. The Delta Variant is considered one of the most infectious and fatal variants of COVID-19. If it spreads across the country, we won’t be able to control it,” Dr Pun further said.
The government has named the ongoing prohibitory order as a ‘Smart Lockdown’ but it seems smart in the name only. People are seen defying the prohibitory orders largely. Public vehicles, public places and restaurants are rarely monitored. People are freely traveling in groups from one place to another. Domestic and international flights have resumed but the situation lacks caution against COVID-19.
The government is preparing to conduct physical examinations of students soon and many of those attending examinations are unvaccinated and are compelled to travel to the Kathmandu Valley. Districts in the Valley are one with the highest number of active cases and are among districts recording the highest number of new cases in Nepal daily.
“It is strange why the number of tests is decreasing as the cases decrease. Instead, the government must conduct as many tests as possible while the cases are decreasing to detect every last case and reduce the rate of transmission,” said Dr Pun.
In recent days, the number of tests conducted in 24 hours have come down to as low as 4,000.