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Omicron: How prepared is Nepal?

As neighboring India struggles with rising rates of positive cases, Nepal is bracing for a new wave of infections.

2022 Jan 07, 18:29, Kathmandu

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus was confirmed in 24 people on Friday. Previously, only two cases were confirmed in two international travelers.

Being vigilant, 25 test samples from Birgunj are being sent to Kathmandu for gene-sequencing in order to identify their variant, as they may be omicron variants. Currently, only Teku hospital in Kathmandu has the technology to properly test and identify the variants of coronavirus.

With new COVID-19 cases ravaging Indian cities such as New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, as well as many places in Bihar, the Nepal-India border's public health concerns have grown exponentially. Over 100,000 infections were confirmed across India over the last 24 hours.

According to Dr. Sangita Mishra, the spokesperson of the health ministry, the Nepal-India border areas are being monitored very closely at the present, due to the immense surge in coronavirus cases in India, with omicron variant being confirmed in at least 3,000 people as of Friday morning.

Speaking to NepalNews, Dr. Mishra also told that the hospitals are on high alert and testing of Indian nationals, as well as Nepal returnees, has increased in order to prevent the virus from entering Nepal. The infected patients are placed in institutional isolation and gene-sequencing is performed in order to identify the omicron variant, which according to WHO, spreads much faster than any of the previously discovered variants. Contact tracing, which was a high-priority activity in the earlier days but had faded away in the midst of the pandemic, has been restarted in instances of positive cases on individuals.

According to Dr. Mishra, vaccination campaigns are also being conducted at a rapid pace and on large scale throughout the Nepal-Indian border.

She further stated that the health ministry has been conducting regular meetings to discuss any new issues that may emerge as a result of new cases and variants being discovered inside the Nepal border.

MoHP has been regularly providing updates on the number of cases, death toll, recoveries, and isolated people in every Nepalese province through their official website.

With no strict restrictions placed thus far on the open Indian border, people have been crossing the border freely from locations that are not being monitored.

India reported 117,100 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the daily positivity rate in the country to 7.74 percent. This is alarming news for Nepal as the infection rates have been quite similar in the two countries, owing to the open-border policy and free travel between the two nations.

More people in Nepal may already be infected as the number of people entering from India after working is increasing in Birgunj and the Far western region.

The far west region has reported that their daily infection rates have doubled over the past week.

Schools and colleges are running physical classes normally in most parts of the country, even though some schools in hilly areas have remained shut due to the extreme cold and sickness ravaging children there.

Many countries in Europe, North America, and Asia such as Germany, Thailand, Japan, UK have been very restrictive when it comes to travel, as compared to just 2 months ago. The USA, meanwhile, has placed no lockdown or restrictions on its citizens, so the cases have grown exponentially to 1 million in a single day.


covid-19 coronavirus pandemic infection OMICRON nepal MoHP Dr Sangita Mishra death toll Birgunj Nepal-India border
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