COVID Cases Surge in India’s Neighbors

Day 414: Stay Safe Minnesota

With the India’s worsening cases from Coronavirus, India has reportedly stopped exports of oxygen, Kathmandu is now struggling to find alternative supplies, writes the BBC.

In The New York Times, Bhadra Sharma, Aanya Wipulasena and Vivian Wang write that as the coronavirus pandemic is worsening, India’s neighbors are bracing for the Worst. “Vaccine shortages, porous borders and fleeing migrant workers have nearby countries fearing that they will share India’s fate”.

Most of Nepal is under lockdown, its hospitals overwhelmed. Bangladesh suspended vaccination sign-ups after promised supplies were cut off. Sri Lanka’s hopes of a tourism-led economic revival have collapsed.

The New York Times (May 14, 2021)

According to the Times, India’s neighbors Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have sealed their borders and are pleading to China and Russia for the Covid vaccines as their hopes for India-made vaccines started fading.

Cases are also rising in India’s border in Bhutan, which reportedly suspended entry for foreign workers, after experts cited concerns about laborers coming from India. Pakistan’s border with India was reportedly closed before the pandemic began because of political tensions. But in Pakistan, too, cases are rising but cases are rising in Pakistan too citing the fact that “the entire region is exploding with cases and deaths”.

“Nepal shows most clearly how the crisis has rippled. After an initial wave last year, cases in the Himalayan nation of 30 million had plunged by January. Residents gathered for Nepali New Year celebrations last month, and hundreds of thousands of migrant workers returned to India, where they go each year in search of jobs,” the Times reports.

Critics have pointed to huge, maskless rallies in India hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi even as infections rose. Likewise, both the ruling and opposition parties in Nepal held large political gatherings after the prime minister dissolved Parliament in December.”

Cases in Nepal are Skyrocketing

According BBC News, because of worsening Coronavirus cases there, India has stopped exports of oxygen, neighboring countries like Nepal is now struggling to find alternative supplies. “Like many other Asian nations, Nepal somehow managed to escape the first wave without any serious damage. But the second wave has been devastating. Daily infections hovered at around 150 at the beginning of April but in a month the figure has passed 9,000. More than 4,000 people have died.”

In the Barron’s, Paavan Mathema and Ashok Dahal write that daily coronavirus cases in Nepal have risen to “60-fold since April 1 and nearly a thousand people have died in the past 10 days.”

“We rank Nepal 9th among the 10 top countries in terms of daily increase in Covid-19 cases. Of all those countries, Nepal has the smallest population but it has the highest case positivity rate,” Sara Beysolow Nyanti, the UN resident co-ordinator in Nepal told the BBC.

The politicians were busy trying to hold on to power, their attention was not on the health of the people but on retaining power.

Dr Rajan Pandey, chief consultant physician at Bheri hospital, in Nepalgunj city (source: BBC News)

“Two months ago, the government and the opposition held huge rallies all over the country. People celebrated religious festivals and organised marriage ceremonies – all contributing to this second wave,” Dr. Pandey told BBC News.

“Nepal has not been able to secure vaccines for even 20% of those who need to be vaccinated. So, Nepal should be prioritised at the top. I appeal to the countries which can spare vaccine to send them to Nepal immediately,” the UN official Ms Nyanti told the BBC.

Coronavirus-19 vaccination watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of May 14, 9 a.m.) 344,503,395 doses have been distributed and 270,832,342 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of May 13) a total of 4,799,651 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of May 15) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 593,622 (out of 9,651,515 tested) with 7,286 deaths.