As of the 7th of January 2021, the total number of Covid-19 cases in Nepal has reached 263,605 and there are currently 5,058 active cases. 256,644 people have recovered from the virus but sadly, 1,903 people have lost their lives. In Nepal’s major cities, 200-500 new cases are currently being reported on a daily basis. Since our last update, PHASE have continued to support remote communities and vulnerable people with essential health, education and livelihood programmes.
Despite recent declines infatality rates and numbers of daily positive cases, the test positivity rate throughout Nepal is still relatively high at 13.5%. Many of the restrictionsputin place to contain the spread of the virus around the country have now been lifted, excluding restrictions on international travel. The wearing of face masks has not been adopted on a widespread basis and safety measures such as social distancing and limits on social gatheringsare often not adhered to. It is currently unknown whether the new, more-transmissiblevariant of Covid-19 that was first found in the UK, has arrived in Nepal. Undoubtedly, Nepal is in a precarious situation once more.
We are unsure when the vulnerable people in Nepal will be able to receive a vaccine against Covid-19. The country has no capacity to produce its own vaccine, so is therefore reliant on others to share vaccines from their own supply chain. The World Health Organisations’ COVAX programme is designed to support countries who have difficulties in gaining access to the vaccine. The WHO aim to have distributed 2 billion doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021, however it is unknown when this programme is likely to begin.
Summarised below is list of recent PHASE activities designed to support communities through this difficult time:
PHASE health teams operating within communities are actively working to provide essential and emergency services. They recently completed a community level COVID awareness program in the far-western region, where signs, symptoms and precautionary measures (social distancing, use of mask, frequent handwashing) were explained to the community and hygiene kits were distributed. PHASE health workers have also been supporting mothers’ and antenatal women’s groups to understand the importance of good nutrition, pregnancy care, and immunisations for a healthy baby.
In the last two months, PHASE Nepal staff have successfully delivered 23 babies in the most remote areas, including births at both health posts and at-home deliveries.
The PHASE Livelihood team is working with local farmers groups to cope with the current harsh winter conditions, facilitating off seasonal vegetable and spice crop production with orientation and in-field technical support. They have conducted regular farm visits tomonitor harvesting and storing techniques, as well as offering support for beehives, kitchen gardens, and the use of poly-tunnels.
The pandemic and national lockdown in Nepal has taken an unprecedented toll on public health, people’s livelihoods and children’s education. PHASE will continue to do all that we can to support rural communities in Nepal to overcome the worst effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, until vulnerable people gain access to the vaccine, and into the future.
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