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Editorial: Nepal’s vaccine botch-up

Editorial: Nepal’s vaccine botch-up

The spread of Covid-19 in Nepal, as well as the ensuing restrictions, tends to closely follow the trends in India. Right now, India’s major cities like Delhi and Mumbai are witnessing a soaring number of covid-positive cases, most of them of the Omicron variant. These cities have thus started re-imposing restrictions on crowding. As the Omicron variant has already been spotted in Nepal and the number of positive cases is again on the rise, there has been renewed talk of another lockdown in the country’s capital city. This is no idle speculation.

On current projections, virologists in Nepal expect positive case numbers to hit a new peak sometime at the end of January. Meanwhile, the scheduled dose of booster vaccination for the elderly and the infirm has been suspended, on the day the campaign was to start. Many have forgotten that we are still in the middle of a deadly pandemic, having long since abandoned protective habits like hand-washing and mask-wearing. Christmas and New Year parties were in full swing.

Also read: Editorial: Meaningless Maoist document

It’s been a horrendous couple of years and people are justifiably getting ‘covid fatigue’. The government too does not inspire confidence with its rather blasé approach to covid-control. Having the elderly and the infirm visit vaccination centers only to be told that vaccination has been suspended is a cruel joke to play on the country’s most vulnerable people—and there could be no more egregious sign of incompetence.

With Omicron, the country is again in unchartered territory. There is no way of predicting its severity. What we do know is that it is more contagious than the older Delta variant. Now, yet another and still more virulent variant, IHU, has been found in France. This means Nepal still needs to maintain a high level of vigilance to ward off another wave of the pandemic. The Covid-19 has been a tricky virus to handle for the whole world, for such a long time. In its current ever-mutating form, the virus could get trickier still. We can ill afford botch-jobs of the kind enacted on the elderly recently.