New COVID-19 variant XBB.1.16 spreading in Nepal; Health officials urge one and all to remain alert

Published On: April 4, 2023 08:05 PM NPT By: Sara Pahari

KATHMANDU, April 4: Nepal has confirmed the emergence of a new variant of coronavirus, Omicron-XBB.1.16, for the first time. 

The neighboring country, India, has reported a surge in coronavirus infections due to this new variant. According to data of the Ministry of Health and Population, the XBB.1.16 variant was found in 10 out of 24 samples that were sequenced. According to the ministry, 24 PCR and antigen-positive samples were gathered at the National Public Health Laboratory in March to determine the molecular genetic alterations in COVID-19. Two of the 24 samples tested positive for BA.1.1, two for BA.2, one for BA.2.76, two for BA.5, two for BA.5.2, ten for XBB 1.16, three for XBB 1.5, one for XBB 2.6, and one for XBF. Experts have confirmed that this variant is the most infectious of the currently active variants.

Globally, two new variants of the Omicron variant are more active: XBB.1.16 and XBB.1.5. XBB.1.5 is mostly seen in the United States, while XBB.1.16 is spreading more in India. The XBB.1.16 variant circulating in India is more infectious. Experts have expressed concern about the rapid spread of these infectious variants in neighboring countries, including Nepal.

The situation with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nepal remains a critical issue, and it is important for everyone to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others. The Ministry of Health and Population continues to monitor the situation closely and take appropriate steps to control the spread of the virus.

In the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health and Population has reported an additional 76 cases of COVID-19 in the country. Out of 1151 individuals who were tested for the virus, 76 individuals were found to have contracted the virus. As a result of these new cases, the total number of active cases has now increased to 227.

The government has expressed its concern regarding the rapid spread of the virus and has implemented stricter measures to regulate entry points into the country. In addition to these measures, the government has appealed to the general public to follow proper health protocols in order to control the spread of the virus.

The Ministry of Health and Population has issued a notice urging individuals who develop symptoms of coronavirus to stay in isolation immediately and get tested for COVID-19. The ministry emphasized that all individuals should adopt necessary precautions as any common cold, cough, or fever could be a sign of COVID-19 until proven otherwise.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Nepal's economy and healthcare system. The country has struggled to provide adequate medical care and supplies to those affected by the virus, and many people have lost their livelihoods due to the lockdowns and economic downturn. The government and healthcare organizations continue to work to control the spread of the virus and provide necessary care to those in need.

Nepal experienced its first wave of COVID-19 cases from April to September 2020, with the highest daily new cases reported in June 2020. After a period of declining cases in late 2020 and early 2021, Nepal experienced a second wave of infection from April to June 2021, which was much more severe than the first wave.

In response to the second wave, the government of Nepal imposed a nationwide lockdown on April 29, 2021, which continued in various forms until July 15, 2021. During the lockdown, many businesses were closed, transportation was restricted, and people were required to stay at home. The lockdown was lifted in stages, with some restrictions remaining in place even after the end of the lockdown period.

It is imperative that everyone plays their role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and follows the guidelines and protocols issued by the Ministry of Health and Population. The ministry has emphasized the importance of proper use of face masks, frequent handwashing with soap or sanitizer, maintaining social distancing, and getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as key measures to protect oneself from the virus. 


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