Saturday, May 15, 2021: Nepal is experiencing a catastrophic second wave of COVID-19 with the rate of positive cases and deaths eclipsing even that of India’s, and a rising number of children infected.
With confronting images of outdoor crematoriums and overwhelmed hospitals now being seen in Nepal, and cases only predicted to soar, World Vision is ramping up its response to critical needs in the country.
The humanitarian organisation is concerned the dire situation will only worsen, especially with more than 500,000 Nepali migrant workers set to return from India to Nepal in a few weeks.
Nepal shares open borders to the east, west and south with COVID-ravaged India, where cases have almost hit 24 million.
“The current situation in Nepal is clearly out of control as the health system is unable to cope,” says Janes Ginting, National Director, World Vision International Nepal.
“The rate of positive COVID tests stands at a worrying 50 per cent nationwide, more than double that of India’s peak rate and the mortality rates are likely to continue to spike. Unlike the first wave, the second wave is of even higher concern as it is affecting people of all ages severely, with a higher rate of infection among children.”
Worryingly, more than 10,000 children aged 0-10 years have been infected by COVID-19 in the country.
The second wave comes as an additional blow to a country already reeling from the pandemic’s aftershocks, with widespread lockdowns and many families struggling to put food on the table.
Health experts predict Nepal’s cases may peak by the end of June with more than 11,000 cases per day.
So far about 7.3 per cent (or 2.09 million) of people in Nepal have been administered COVID-19 vaccine doses among a population of 28.61 million. But the drastically increasing infection rate and upcoming shortages in the manufacture and supply of vaccines are posing serious challenges.
World Vision Australia CEO Daniel Wordsworth said Australians had a strong affinity with Nepal and would be feeling deeply for their plight.
“The population may be smaller, but we are facing another India in Nepal,” he said.
“The tragic images that shocked the world of burning orange flames of open pyres, and the sick and the dying being treated outside hospitals, are now being replicated in Nepal.
“These people are already reeling from economic, social and physical impacts of COVID-19. Children across the nation have already missed school for more than a year and most of them do not have access to alternative learning. Many families have lost their livelihoods because of lockdowns in cities across the country, making it a struggle for them to even get two meals a day. What’s more, the isolating nature of COVID-19 prevention means children are at increased risk of child marriage as well as physical and sexual violence within the walls of their house.”
Nepal recorded a total of 431,191 cases of COVID-19 and 4,466 deaths (8842 cases per day with 214 deaths per day) as at May 13, 2021.
Nepal’s infection rate began to rise in March 2021, soon after the second wave hit India in February 2021 with the new COVID-19 variant.