Kathmandu, May 24: Nepal reported the first case of COVID-19 on January 24 earlier this year. A student returning from the disease’s epicentre, China’s Wuhan, was the first to be diagnosed with this disease.
Two months after the first case was reported, Nepal confirmed the second case on March 23. A France-returned student tested positive for this virus.
When Nepal’s northern neighbor was tightly gripped by the pandemic of coronavirus, our government was busy announcing Nepal as a ‘Coronavirus Free Zone’ in a bid to promote Visit Nepal Year 2020, perhaps because the whole world was not aware of the intensity of this deadly virus.
Just a month ago on April 24, Nepal had only 49 cases and the number of new cases per day used to be either zero or in a single digit.
Nepal has witnessed 584 cases and three fatalities as of Sunday morning. As early as a week ago on May 17, only 295 patients had tested positive for this virus.
With officials expediting testing in recent days, more cases of this fatal disease have been detected. Moreover, a large number of Nepalis have been entering from the southern border after finding it difficult to survive the prolonged lockdown in India.
As of today, the infection has spread to 41 districts and most of them are Terai districts which share borders with India.
Seven districts of Province 1 have reported 86 cases of the infection of COVID-19 which include Udayapur (33), Khotang (1), Jhapa (36), Dhankuta (7), Bhojpur (1) Sunsari (3) and Morang (5).
Some 172 patients have contracted the virus in Province 2 as of today where Parsa is the worst-hit district with 91 cases. All eight districts have witnessed the infection. A district-wise tally includes Dhanusha (9), Bara (11), Mahottari (3), Rautahat (22), Saptari (2), Sarlahi (33) and Siraha (1).
Bagmati Province, where the federal capital city, Kathmandu, lies has reported 32 cases, with one death. Eleven cases in Kathmandu, six in Chitwan, four in Bhaktapur, three each in Dhading and Makwanpur and one each in Kavre, Ramechhap, Lalitpur, Sindhupalchowk and Sindhuli were confirmed. A 29-0ld-woman from Sindhupalchowk died on May 16 which was the first case of fatality from COVID-19 in the country.
Gandaki Province first reported the COVID-19 infection on March 28, four days after the country went into a nationwide lockdown on March 24. Since then, only five cases have been reported in this province – two cases each in Baglung and Nawalparasi and a case in Lamjung.
Province 5 which shares the southern border with India, has been worst hit by this pandemic. With 272 cases, this province has also reported two deaths so far due to COVID-19. Banke district which has turned into a hotspot for this virus has reported 142 cases alone. Similarly, 77 cases in Kapilvastu, 37 in Rupandehi, six in Nawalparasi (West), three in Dang and Bardiya each and one in Gulmi have been confirmed. A 25-year-old male from Narainapur-5, Banke died on May 17 followed by another death on May 21. A 41-year-old male patient from Madane Rural Municipality-6, Gulmi died at Manigram, Rupandehi-based Crimson Hospital after contracting the virus. Until May 1, the province had not reported even a single case.
Karnali Province has reported four cases – three in Surkhet and one in Dailekh. Karnali had remained unaffected by its dark shadow until May 19.
Sudur Paschim Province which shares borders with India from two sides has witnessed 14 cases so far – seven in Kailali, five in Baitadi and one each in Kanchanpur and Dadheldhura.
By the time of preparing this news, a total of 70 patients have recovered and returned home.
The government has expedited testing in recent days. It has set up 16 Level 1 COVID-19 hospitals while there are 12 and three Level 2 and Level 3 hospitals, respectively, in different parts of the country dedicated for COVID-19 treatment. Similarly, 126 COVID-19 clinics have been established.
Laboratories for PCR tests have been set up at 19 different places around the country.
Amid the rising number of cases of this fatal disease, people have already started fearing a severe economic depression as almost all economic activities have come to a grinding halt for the last two months.