Rising covid cases set off alarm

Sabitri Dhakal

Sabitri Dhakal

Rising covid cases set off alarm

The country has been witnessing a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases since the past week.

Health experts say the rise in infections in India, with which Nepal shares an open border, is a major reason behind the rise in the number of infections.

Several Indian states and territories like Delhi, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have seen a surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the past week.

The new variant XBB.1.16, the Omicron recombinant sublineage, is currently driving the new Covid-19 spike in India and is also the dominant strain spreading in the city, various Indian media have reported.

“Open border with India and the lack of surveillance in land crossings have resulted in the rise in infections in Nepal,” says Dr Baburam Marasini, public health expert.

He points that the people’s tendency of taking infections lightly and not bothering about preventive measures is also to blame. 

The XBB.1.16 variant, however, has not been detected in the country till now.

“The number of people suffering from influenza has increased in the country also because an increasing number of people are opting for medical tests,” according to Dr Anup Bastola, tropical and infectious disease expert.

Experts stress the need to ramp up tests warning that infections on the rise in communities can spread further if control measures are not taken. They suggest people to practice preventive health measures such as wearing masks and frequent handwashing.

But seven districts in Madhes Province—Parsa, Rautahat, Bara, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Siraha and Saptari—have stopped PCR tests as they lack human resources.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday said it is monitoring XBB.1.16, an omicron subvariant that has been documented mostly in India.

“We’re monitoring it because it has potential changes that we need to keep a good eye out on,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s COVID-19 technical lead, said at a press conference.

“The surveillance must be increased both along land crossings and international airports,” says Dr Marasini.

Experts also suggest people to take the vaccine against coronavirus and its additional doses to protect themselves. A total of 12,020 people have succumbed to the infection till March 30 in the country.

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