Amidst signs that the second Covid-19 wave is cresting in Nepal, the government is easing some restrictions in Kathmandu Valley, allowing limited international flights, while its efforts to procure more vaccines from abroad have not been successful.
The numbers needing hospitalisation drops, and with an airlift of oxygen and other medical supplies from abroad continuing, reports from district hospitals and Kathmandu show that medical oxygen shortage is not as acute as it was throughout May.
The Ministry of Health announced in its daily briefing on Wednesday that there were 5,316 new confirmed Covid-19 cases with 7,219 recovering. This brings the total number of active cases to 101,993, with most isolating at home. Of the 1,446 in hospital ICUs, 385 need ventilator support.
The official daily death toll has continued to fall, with 101 in the last 24 hours, down from a peak of more than 200 daily in mid-May. Even so, some hospitals in Kathmandu are still full as patients needing critical care are being brought in from outlying districts. The virus has now seeped into the remotest settlements in Nepal’s mountains.
Meanwhile, the district administrations of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur decided to ease from 3 June strict restrictions that had closed down even corner grocery stores in the Valley. From Thursday, food stores can open till 9AM again, and construction sites will be allowed to operate. But public transport and other offices will remain shut. The lockdown that began on 29 April will now be extended till at least 14 June.
Out of Nepal’s 77 districts, only two are not in lockdown: Khotang in the east and Manang in the central trans-Himalaya. Most intercity buses are off the roads, with only ambulances, food and fuel trucks allowed on the highways.