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Can there be another COVID outbreak in Nepal?

The number of cases in China and India are rising consistently, Nepal has to gear up for possible outbreak response and prevention again.

2023 Jan 01, 13:30, Kathmandu

Nepal’s neighbour China is seeing a huge outbreak of coronavirus cases after three years of its first outbreak in Wuhan. The winter season can play a catalyst role in spreading the virus further. However, travel restrictions have been eased for people travelling from China. Amidst this, several countries have made COVID tests of people arriving from China compulsory. Due to geographical proximity, Nepal is vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus coming from China.

As of now, the reported cases in Nepal are very few, with high recovery and zero death rate. However, with surges in neighbouring nations, the danger still remains. The new sub-variant of COVID-19 'BF-7' spreading in neighbouring countries and elsewhere makes it likely to be transferred to Nepal as well.

Recently, India has also seen another outbreak of coronavirus raising concerns regarding the role of the Nepal-India border in bringing the virus to Nepal. So far, border authorities have started to take precautions through the regulation of inter-border activities. Travellers entering Nepal from Indian borders are required to take a mandatory test for COVID-19 before entering. Likewise, health desks have been set up at different areas at the border.

Booster doses of COVID -19 vaccines are largely being promoted by the government with more than 80 percent of the population in Nepal under five fully vaccinated, but lacking in booster vaccinations. On the matter, National Public Health professional, Radhika Ghimire says “ The government strategy of vaccination should speed up through, easy access, awareness, motivation and dismantling rumors surrounding vaccine usage in the public.”

“ The elderly and people diagnosed with chronic diseases like diabetes, heart patients, and people having respiratory problems, are to be protected and focused upon in implementing prevention strategies,” she adds. Regarding the negation of prevention measures by the larger public in winter holidays, she says,“ People often tend to not follow safety protocols while celebrating festivals and during holidays, therefore behavior change is necessary.”

“The previously observed capacity enhancement of health workers, hospital preparedness, and multisectoral coordination has not been followed up and tracked in Nepal lately like it was in the past during major COVID surges in the country which should be activated,” adds Ghimire. With alarming concerns for Nepal, the health ministry has made masks mandatory in public places and appealed to continue taking COVID-19 precautions. The WHO advised covid - 19 precautions are listed below:

  • Practicing physical distancing and avoiding crowds and close contact.
  • Wearing a properly fitted mask, especially in poorly ventilated settings.
  • Cleaning hands frequently with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Self-isolating yourself if symptoms appear if you test positive.
  • Storing the masks in a clean plastic bag, washing them if it’s a fabric mask, and disposing of them in a trash bin if it’s a medical mask.
  • Not using masks with valves.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces frequently, especially those which are regularly touched, such as door handles and phone screens.
  • Increasing ventilation through opening windows.
Previously, coronavirus outbreaks have been reported in places of gathering, in crowded indoor settings such as restaurants, nightclubs, offices, places of worship, etc.

china outbreak coronavirus travel restrictions COVID Tests COVID-19 'BF-7' Nepal-India border covid-19 booster doses National Public Health vaccination diabetes
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