With Dasain less than a week away, people in Kathmandu have thrown caution to the wind. Old marketplaces around New Road, Indra Chok and Asan are crowded with people shopping for the festival, many of them with their masks drawn or even without one.
There has been a steady decline in Covid-19 cases lately. In the past 24 hours, Nepal recorded 659 new infections and nine deaths. But with only 21% of the population fully vaccinated and the highly contagious Delta variant still circulating in the region, public health experts have warned that mass gatherings and long-distance travel can lead to another surge.
Last year this time, the government had eased the lockdown and there was an increase in social activities and local businesses had also picked up before the festivals. Millions of people travelled from Kathmandu to hometowns ahead of Dasain-Tihar, spreading the virus and eventually leading to the first wave in October.