New coronavirus infections have been declining in Nepal in recent days, however, the country is still facing many challenges as the daily infections remain high.
As of Monday morning, Nepal overall coronavirus caseload and death toll stood at 557,124 and 7,272, respectively.
The Himalayan country reported 8,000-9,000 cases on most days in May before a decline was witnessed in the last few days since the second wave of the pandemic started in early April, reports Xinhua news agency.
The tally has fallen since May 26 below 7,000 cases per day, with 4,311 infections recorded on May 9.
Nepali health officials and experts, however, are cautious about the downward trend.
Nepal's health facilities had been pushed to their limit when the coronavirus infected more than 8,000 people each day for many days and left many dead, and hospitals had to turn away patients due to a lack of medical oxygen and beds.
The authorities have enforced a lockdown in most districts of the country which in no doubt has helped stabilize new infections.
Likewise, an increasing supply of oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, other medical equipment and hospital beds through joint efforts of the government, private sector, non governmental organisations and foreign governments has also contributed to the eased situation, according to officials.
"Our assessment is that the case loads are still in the peak and it will remain so for some time before declining," said Krishna Prasad Paudel, director of the epidemiology and disease control division under the Health Ministry.
"It is necessary for Nepal to continue the existing measures of lockdown and social distancing along with testing and isolating the infected people to bring down the cases for a longer term," he told Xinhua on Sunday.
According to Home Ministry, the prohibitory measures have been enforced in 75 of 77 districts in the country.
Even though a sign of slowing has been seen mostly due to the prohibitory measures, less focus on contacts tracing, low testing and lack of vaccine could lead to another wave, cautioned officials and experts.
"The government data show a decreasing trend of Covid-19 but I don't believe the prevalence of Covid-19 infections has come down. Because of under-testing, the cases appear to have gone down," said Binjwala Shrestha, an assistant professor with Tribhuvan University.
"Over half of the samples are tested in Bagmati Province where capital Kathmandu lies, so the cases reported don't reflect the reality," she told Xinhua on Sunday.
According to Paudel, the central government is facing the challenge of mobilising local governments for contact tracing, testing and isolating the infected.
In the early days of the second wave, some cities bordering India, including Nepalgunj and Butwal, were badly affected along with the Kathmandu Valley.
Now, the cases have spread to other parts of the country.
There is also another challenge of not having enough human resources to operate health facilities.
"Like other health facilities, human resources of the medical sector are also concentrated in the Kathmandu Valley, which will be a challenge to cope with a potential surge in cases outside the capital city," said Paudel.
Nepal was among the few countries to start a vaccination drive early, and since January it has provided the first dose to 2.11 million people, while another 654,851 have received both, with people inoculated twice accounting for 2 per cent of the total population of some 30 million, according to the Ministry of Health and Population.
According to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, his government has been holding discussions with all countries which produce Covid-19 vaccines about supplying jabs to the Himalayan nation.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
First Published: May 31 2021 | 10:06 AM IST