Nepal’s festive mood raises fears of fresh surge in Covid-19 cases

Pandemic-impacted businesses are breathing a sigh of relief with people flooding marketplaces for shopping but flouting of Covid protocols sparks fears of a coronavirus upsurge.

People throng a marketplace in Kathmandu. (File photo)

Ashim Neupane

  • Read Time 2 min.

Kathmandu: Major marketplaces in the Kathmandu Valley are flooded with people for Dashain shopping spawning fears of a surge in coronavirus cases.

New Road, Ason and Indrachowk— the major marketplaces in Kathmandu Valley— have been witnessing a huge footfall of people for the past few days. Though the government has warned the risk of Covid-19 is still high, people were seen paying no heed.

When Sangita Adhikari, 35, a resident of Chandagiri Municipality, ventured out of her home, she thought people would be shopping following proper safety protocols. She was taken completely by surprise after seeing crowded marketplaces with people flouting basic Covid-19 norms.

“Majority of people were not following safety protocols, some of them were even not wearing a mask. They all were in festival mood and didn’t care about the pandemic, said Adhikari.

The local administrations in Kathmandu Valley on September 30 issued an order urging people to follow proper health safety protocols as Covid-19 could further spread during the festive season.

A total of 1,043 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the country on Wednesday. Kathmandu Valley recorded 440 fresh cases with 344 in Kathmandu, 61 in Lalitpur and 35 in Bhaktapur.

Experts say that Nepal is still not out of the risk zone even though the Covid-19 cases are slowly declining.

Experts say that Nepal is still not out of the risk zone even though the Covid-19 cases are slowly declining. “Even last year, the cases had declined before the festive season. And the daily cases were recorded at 50-60 on average. We thought the Covid-19 pandemic is ending. But we faced a different situation,” said virologist Dr Sher Bahadur Pun. “There has been serious negligence from concerned authorities. If there is no monitoring, the consequence will be severe as people are neglecting the pandemic.”

“Even though the government is running the vaccination campaign aggressively, Covid-19 vaccines will not be enough to control the pandemic. In this festive season, a huge number of people will travel to other districts, and the risk of spread is high across the country,” he added.

Dr Pun further added that the Delta variant has already infected a huge number of people. “This variant can infect a huge number of people in a short period of time,” he concluded.

According to Dr Baburam Marasini, former director at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, the consequences will be seen in 10-12 days. “This can trigger the third wave of the pandemic,” he warned.