Covid positivity rate crosses three percent. Experts say a smaller third wave could hit Nepal this winter

Covid positivity rate crosses three percent. Experts say a smaller third wave could hit Nepal this winter

On Monday, a 52 year-old man from Kathmandu died of Covid-19 infection in the course of treatment at Star Hospital. The deceased, a homeopathy doctor, was fully vaccinated, according to his relatives.

“Hundreds of people are still getting infected every day and even fully vaccinated people are dying due to complications caused by the infection,” Dr Binjawala Shrestha, an assistant professor at the Institute of Medicine at the Tribhuvan University, told the Post.

The deceased was a relative of Shrestha.

“The risk of spread of new variants of the coronavirus has increased,” Shrestha warned. “Increasing crowds and violation of safety measures could spell another disaster in the coming days.”

If the data of polymerase chain reaction tests of the last one week (Tuesday to Monday) is anything to go by, the daily test positivity rate has increased from less than 3 percent to over 3 percent.

Daily test positivity rate from Tuesday to Thursday was less than three percent and from Friday to Monday daily test positivity rate has crossed 3 percent and has reached up to 3.9 percent.

On Monday, the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 was 341.

Public health experts suspect that the rise in the daily test positivity rate and increase in the number of infected people in the last few days could be an indication of a new surge in coronavirus cases. They have warned a new wave, smaller than the previous two waves, triggered by the existing Delta variant could hit the country in winter. The logic behind the warnings was a decline in the immunity level among the high risk population after a few months, which was developed either through natural infection or by vaccination.

“After the emergence of Omicron, it has been almost certain that such waves will come sooner and will be bigger than the Delta variant,” Dr Anup Subedee, an infectious disease expert writes in twitter. “We should be cautious about the risks.”

Lately crowds have been increasing everywhere. People have stopped following Covid safety measures. Authorities concerned too seem indifferent towards the risks of the existing variant of the virus and the new variant, which have wreaked havoc in several countries, including in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Schools and colleges have resumed in-person classes, a wedding season is underway, and political rallies and gatherings have increased due to national conventions of major political parties. And what is concerning, according to doctors, is that people have even stopped wearing face masks.

“Much is still not known about the new variant, but we should not forget the risk of the existing Delta variant, which is circulating in our communities,” said Dr Umesh Bogati, Covid-19 focal person at Bir Hospital. “We expect a new surge in the coming days and we have started the preparations accordingly.”

The hospital administration said that around two to three infected patients in serious conditions have been visiting the hospital every day. A few days ago six Covid patients were admitted to the hospital.

“Initially we feared that the infected people might have come from the UML’s national convention in Chitwan, where thousands had gathered, but that was not the case,” said Bogati. “If the infection had spread from such events, it could take a catastrophic turn.”

Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital also said that there has not been a significant increase in new cases of late.

“Around three to four Covid patients get admitted at our hospital daily,” said Dr Manisha Rawal, director at the hospital. “But that does not mean the risk has lessened. The risk has increased manifold due to the emergence of new variants and our tendency to violate public health measures.”

Doctors have urged the authorities concerned to enforce Covid safety measures strictly and increase the vaccination pace.

It has been reported that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading quickly in several countries where it has been discovered. Even if it causes only mild disease — and that’s far from certain — that could still mean many people end up in the hospital and dying, the CNN said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Population said that infection rate has not increased significantly despite an increase in new cases.

“The rise in the number of infected people is due to a rise in testing,” said Dr Krishna Prasad Paudel. “The risk of spread of existing variants and new variants has definitely risen but infection rate has not increased much.”

Paudel concedes that new cases could surge due to ongoing political gatherings, social functions and neglect to public health measures.

On Tuesday, 264 people tested positive in 9,392 polymerase chain reaction tests and 35 others in 4,317 antigen tests. In the last 24 hours, two people succumbed to the coronavirus infection. The number of deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic has reached 11,559. Active cases stand at 5,689.

So far, 9,365,915 people (30.8 percent of the total population) have been fully vaccinated.

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