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114 new cases in 24 hours

Nepal on Wednesday saw the highest single-day spike of Covid19 cases with the confirmation of infections in 114 people. The cases were confirmed over the last 24 hours during tests done in laboratories in Dharan, Biratnagar, Hetauda, Pokhara, Dang, Nepalgunj, and Kathmandu. With today’s confirmations, the total number of Covid19 cases in Nepal has skyrocketed to 886.

“The situation is such that the number of infections continue to rise every day,” said Bikash Devkota, spokesperson of the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), during the daily press briefing. On Tuesday, the ministry had confirmed 90 new cases.
Experts say that the rising number of new cases is worrying because there has not been a significant increase in the number of people being tested. Laboratories across the country tested only 3,580 swab samples, using the PCR method, in the last 24 hours.

Among the infected are 796 males and 90 females from 47 districts across the country. On Wednesday, a total of 28 patients were discharged from hospitals, taking the number of successful recoveries to 183.

No more tests using RDT

Why is the government prioritizing the Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) method for Covid19 testing even when it has been deemed unreliable? That was the question that Nepali Congress MP Rajan KC raised while speaking during the parliament’s zero-hour on Wednesday, while demanding that the Ministry of Health and Population provide a rationale for the growing use of RTD tests.

“The RDT tests showed 56 people positive for Covid19 in Chandragiri Municipality, but all of them tested negative in PCR tests,” KC, an MP from Kathmandu-10, said.

Many have suspected possible anomalies as the MoHP continues to stick to the RDT test despite calls from various quarters, including the National Human Rights Commission, to stop the unreliable test. The number of RDT tests is nearly double that of PCR tests. Until Wednesday evening, a total of 58,277 samples had been tested through the PCR method, while 100,287 had been tested through the RDT method.

Several countries have stopped using RDT tests owing to concerns over its accuracy from global health authorities like the World Health Organization.

Karnali seeks army’s help to combat pandemic

The Karnali Province has sought the federal government’s permission to mobilize the Nepal Army for managing the return of seasonal migrants from India. The province, one of the poorest in the country, is staring at the herculean task of quarantining over 100,000 Nepalis who are expected to return from India in the next few weeks. In a statement, Bimala KC, a spokesperson, said a meeting of the cabinet has already sought permission to deploy the Nepal Army and other security forces to combat the Covid19 pandemic.

Although only 38 people have tested positive for Covid19 in the province, experts say that the number is likely to increase with an increase in testing and the increased inflow of migrant workers from India.

More than 15,000 migrant workers have arrived at the Karnali border in the last few days, through the Jamunah, Gaddachauki, and Gaurifanta border points. Many of them were stopped along the way and have been forced to sleep on roads and playgrounds, often without food and water.

Budget at 4PM, Thursday

Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada will present the budget for the fiscal year 2077-78 at 4PM on Thursday.The budget will be presented to a joint session of the bicameral parliament. On Wednesday, House of Representatives Speaker Agni Sapkota told all lawmakers to be present at 3:45PM for the meeting. Earlier this month, President Bidya Devi Bhandari had unveiled the policies and programmes for the fiscal year 2077-78, which focuses on health and employment, as well as on programmes for reviving the economic activities that have been disrupted by the Covid19 pandemic.

A constitutional provision mandates that the government present the budget on Jestha 15.

Stuck migrants protest death at border

Nepali migrants stranded at Jatahi in Madhubani District of Bihar on Wednesday protested against the government following the death of a fellow Nepali stuck at the border. Birendra Yadav, a 30-year-old inhabitant of Shahid Nagar Municipality in Dhanusa, who was returning from Ahmedabad, India, died in Jatahi on Wednesday morning due to health complications, according to Ramdev Marik Yadav, chairman of ward no. 9 of the Shahid Nagar Municipality. He was languishing at the border along with dozens of other Nepali citizens after the security forces had let them in. The angry migrants then crossed the border and protested against the authorities for not providing food and water to the stranded migrants. The return of thousands of seasonal migrants from various cities in India is creating a health and humanitarian crisis because the government has failed at both quarantining them and allowing them in.

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