Focused COVID-19 Media Monitoring, Nepal - ReliefWeb

Focused COVID-19 Media Monitoring, Nepal
Focused COVID-19 Media Monitoring Nepal1
                                                                             -Sharpening the COVID-19 Response through Communications Intelligence
Date: May 17, 2021
Kathmandu, Nepal

                                                          EMERGING THEME(S)

     •   Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli admits he had not estimated COVID-19 infection would spread to this extent in the
         country; says he’d believed Nepalis’ immune system to be strong enough to fight the virus; COVID-19 Crisis
         Management Center avers more legal structures needed to fight the pandemic; Finance Minister ensures
         Rs 4,318,560,000 for control of COVID-19 infection
     •   Nepal reports 7,316 new COVID-19 infections, 145 deaths on May 16; infection spreading rapidly in Taplejung, Kavre,
         Sindhupalchowk; Surkhet stares at increased chance of starvation; COVID-19 patients in Parasi who ingested typhoid
         medicine critical
     •   Health Ministry to manage oxygen supply to hospitals once again; quota system lifted; Finance Minister says no more
         oxygen shortage from now onwards as steps have been taken, okays budget to set up oxygen plant and pipeline in 3
         hospitals; Siddhartha Bank to provide ‘oxygen loans’
     •   Analysts say it would be great if reappointed PM KP Oli turned his focus on COVID-19 now; Parliamentarians get their
         booster dose, even family members of some, some ex-lawmakers; timely booster dose for senior citizens still in limbo;
         Health Ministry asks people not to keep oxygen cylinders at homes, while Deputy PM urges Kathmandu Mayors’ Forum
         to work with federal government
     •   International help or promises to help Nepal fight COVID-19 pandemic start coming in; United Nations ready to help, US
         and China to provide assistance worth US$2,750,000, Rs 90,000,000 to Nepal respectively
     •   Health Ministry says Nepal’s COVID-19 infection has peaked, health experts expect decrease in number in coming
         days; Even if number of new infections plateau, death rate will keep rising, say experts; Looking at India’s pattern,
         experts here expect infections to decrease within two to four weeks

 1This intelligence is tracked through manually monitoring national print, digital and online media through a representative sample selection,
 and consultations with media persons and media influencers.

 WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                                                 2
•   Oxygen shortage claimed 12 lives in Bir Hospital, 6 in National Trauma Center on May 13; oxygen plants at Kathmandu
       Medical College, Bir, Patan hospitals not working, no attempts made to repair them; hospitals have cut down new
       admissions; doctors, healthcare workers either appealing for oxygen on social media or running around to arrange
   •   Sudurpaschim Province hospitals yet to get oxygen plants as initiatives stalled; Bajura District Hospital might get a new
       oxygen plant up and running in a month’s time; Thimi’s Nepal-Korea Friendship Hospital starts producing oxygen;
       Pokhara hospitals not facing difficulties in managing oxygen supplies
   •   Sudurpaschim Province at risk of COVID-19 spreading at a dangerous rate, but local levels, police oblivious to this
   •   Mugu district sees escalating number of COVID-19 cases in last two weeks, 5 testing positive on a daily basis; district
       not equipped to handle the rising infections
   •   Collection of swabs of corona suspects begins as 11 dead, scores ill in Jagarnathpur Rural Municipality in past 10 days
   •   Delay in getting COVID-19 test reports has fuelled the spread of infection at community level in Gorkha
   •   Only hospital in district providing healthcare to COVID-19 patients, Arghakhanchi Hospital has no ICU
   •   Ramechhap facing shortage of cetamol, remote areas of Surkhet have no Antigen Test kits

                                               RECURRING THEME(S)

   •   Birtamode hospital treats COVID-19 patients airlifted there; other hospitals run out of space, patients being treated in
       any available space, under make-shift tents which have also been overrun; many isolation centers ill-equipped to treat
       COVID-19 patients
   •   People resorting to home-isolation instead of seeking medical help in hospitals; many in home isolation dying due to
       lack of proper treatment
   •   Risk of community transmission remains large as no proper screening system or infrastructure in place at Gaddachauki
   •   All and sundry join in to fight the COVID-19 pandemic
   •   Government has set Rs 5,000 for Remdesivir, but available in black up to Rs 50,000 and only through secret channel

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                               3

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has admitted that he had not estimated the COVID-19 infection to spread at this level in the
country. During a meeting at Baluwatar, he said he believed the immunity of Nepalis was strong and the infection would not
spread to this extent.2
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has instructed that a rapid response team be formed that is to work to prevent any kind of
casualties from the pandemic.3
The COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC) has concluded that more legal structures are needed to fight the COVID-
19 pandemic. Its meeting on May 16 said that the Infectious Disease Act 2019 is not enough to control the pandemic, and has
asked the Ministry of Law and other agencies concerned to make necessary arrangements for the same. 4
The Ministry of Finance has ensured Rs 4,318,560,000 for capacity enhancement of hospitals and healthcare materials
needed to prevent and control the COVID-19 infection.5

Nepal on May 16 registered 7,316 fresh cases, and 145 fatalities due to COVID-19 taking the death toll to 5,001, and the
nationwide total infection count to 455,020, according to the Ministry of Health and Population. 6
The COVID-19 infection has been spreading rapidly in the rural areas of Taplejung after people from different places outside of
the district started returning to the villages there.7
The COVID-19 infection rate is high in the rural areas of Kavre and Sindhupalchowk. The reports of all 17 testing for the virus
came back positive in Temal, 16 out of 17 tested in Khanikhola came back positive for the virus in Khanikhola. 8

  Annapurna Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                               4
COVID-19 has been confirmed in nearly 70 people in a ward of Thaha Municipality of Makawanpur. The gatherings of
weddings, feasts and other group activities are the cause of the spread of the infection, as per Dr Rikesh Karki, a doctor at the
primary healthcare there.9
A total of 361 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Udayapur by May 15 — the number is increasing in the district.
However, there has been no single case of infection in last year’s epicenter Bhulke.10
The fear of starvation has increased in Surkhet with the spread of COVID-19 infection. The families of daily wage workers are
in danger, but the local levels do not have relief packages.11
The condition of COVID-19 patients, who took typhoid medicine, is getting critical in Parasi. Most of the COVID-19 patients
visiting hospitals in Western Nawalparasi have been found to have taken medicine for typhoid without undergoing tests.12
Pregnant women are facing problems regarding their regular health check-up due to the risk of the new variant of COVID-19.
There is more risk of infection while stepping out of home, plus the hospitals are also treating COVID-19 patients.13
Experts have concluded that lack of timely correct treatment is responsible for the high number of COVID-19 death deaths in a
short period in Nepal. In the past five weeks, 1,676 people have died in the country, and this is three times higher than last
year. As the new variant of coronavirus spreads faster, if pneumonia caused by this variant can be identified on time and
treated, the lives of many people can be saved, they have said.14
The feasts organized on various occasions including weddings, birth and death rituals have contributed to the spread of
coronavirus in the rural settlements of Baglung, Parbat, Gorkha, Myagdi, Pokhara, Tanahun, and Lamgunj. The risk of infection

   Annapurna Post
   Annapurna Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                                5
has increased as people are moving around freely in the rural areas even though caution against the virus is being practiced in
urban areas.15
Going out of houses and shopping have increased COVID-19 infection in the Bharatpur Metropolitan City, according to a
survey of 372 people. More than 32 per cent said they contracted the virus when they went out shopping. Nearly 31 per cent
said they got the virus from their family members. Nearly 20 per cent said they got the virus after attending get-togethers and
A COVID-19-infected person has been found to have been selling grocery items at his store in Gurbhakot Municipality-8 of
Surkhet. Though police made him shut his store after neighbors suspected his status, many had bought vegetables from his
store before this.17
A 63-year-old COVID-19 woman died at Manthali Primary Health Center while searching for an ICU bed. The deceased’s
relative said they looked for an ICU bed in Kathmandu as Ramechhap does not have ICU and ventilator facility so far, but
could not get one.18
Most people of Jhuledanda of Badigad Rural Municipality of Baglung, who had attended a wedding of a local there, have been
showing coronavirus-like symptoms while five of them — a father and two sons from a family, and two more — have died due
to COVID-19.19
A 29-year old man from Butwal lost his life to COVID-19 within 15 days of getting married.20
A total of 750 journalists have been infected with COVID-19 as of now, according to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
Likewise, 13 journalists have lost lives to the virus.21

The Ministry of Health and Population is once again responsible for management of oxygen for hospitals after Deputy Prime

   The Himalayan Times

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                               6
Minister Ishwar Pokharel-led COVID-19 Crisis Management Center failed to do so. The distribution of oxygen to hospitals via
quota system has been removed.22

There will be no shortage of oxygen from now onwards, according to Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali. We have ordered
cylinders from China and Oman, and talks are going on with India for more supply of oxygen, and this will reduce the problem,
he said.23

Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel has approved the decision to provide Rs 58,324,000 in total to three hospitals to set up
an oxygen plant and pipeline each. Dadeldhura Hospital, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, and Bheri Hospital will get the

The Ministry of Health and Population has released a budget of Rs 234,000,000 to manage oxygen, ICU and ventilators in
three hospitals — Seti Provincial Hospital, Mahakali Hospital, and Dadeldhura Hospital — of Sudurpaschim Province. 25

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said the government has given priority to the production, supply, and distribution of oxygen
for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.26

Government hospitals are not getting the oxygen cylinders as per the quota set by the government. It has caused difficulties in
the treatment of COVID-19 patients. They have reduced oxygen flow for the patients requiring high flow oxygen, and have also
been admitting a less number of patients.27

The lack of coordination between COVID-19 Crisis Management Center (CCMC) and the Ministry of Health and Population
(MoHP) has created a dilemma in the distribution of oxygen, according to the operators of oxygen factories. The CCMC had


WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                              7
set oxygen quota for hospitals to manage the oxygen amidst the shortage, while two days later MoHP had asked the oxygen
industries to distribute oxygen as per the previous supply system.28

The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has requested hospitals not to make the kin of COVID-19 patients to arrange for
oxygen. It’s the hospital’s responsibility to arrange for oxygen, according to Dr Jageshwar Gautam, Spokesperson of the

Siddhartha Bank Ltd is set to provide oxygen loans to hospitals and nursing homes for the purchase of machines and
equipment needed for the production of oxygen, as well as for expansion of oxygen production capacity.30

The Army will be mobilized to run the oxygen plants of Rupandehi for 24 hours.31

The Nepal Electricity Authority is on high alert to prevent power cuts in hospitals and oxygen factories. 32

Minister of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Lekh Raj Bhatta has met Mahabir Pun of the National Innovation Center to
discuss ways to solve the ongoing shortage of oxygen.33

The Ministry of Health and Population has asked people not to keep oxygen cylinders at homes unless recommended by
doctors and has requested them to deposit the cylinders at nearby hospitals or local level offices. The Ministry has also
requested oxygen manufacturers and suppliers to supply the oxygen to hospitals as usual until further notice. 34

Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokharel has urged the Kathmandu Valley Mayors’ Forum to cooperate with the federal
government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that only unified initiatives and positive thinking could help win this

   The Himalayan Times

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                               8

President of the Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba has asked the government to make oxygen plants and make PRC
testing readily available and accessible in all districts of the country.36

KP Sharma Oli was sworn in as Prime Minister again on May 14. Soon after taking charge, Oli addressed his ministers, where
he said there is no shortage of beds even as doctors for the past few weeks have been saying hospitals have run out of beds
as well as oxygen and they cannot admit new patients. Analysts say that since Oli has been reappointed as per the
constitutional provisions, there is not much to complain about, but it would be a great service to the people if he shed his self-
aggrandisement and turned his focus to the COVID-19 pandemic that has overwhelmed the country.37

The Ministry of Health and Population has introduced a new system for the 11 COVID-dedicated and other hospitals of
Kathmandu. These hospitals can now decide on whether to admit new COVID-19 patients, send them home, or keep them in
the ICU, depending on the patients’ condition.38

The Health Sector Emergency Response for COVID-19 prepared in May 2020 had planned to ensure adequate production and
distribution of oxygen, prioritize local production of personal protective equipment and estimate adequate supply of oxygen
along with PPEs, blood gas analyzer, ventilators, ICUs, drugs and other essential items as per the World Health Organization
guidelines. However, the needs were never fulfilled and the plans to acquire them remained only on paper. 39

After a Cabinet meeting on April 19 decided to perform free testing and resume contact tracing, the Ministry of Health and
Population issued a statement asking provincial and local governments to resume contact tracing and collect swab samples for
PCR test. However, most local units across the nation are yet to start contact tracing.40

   Rastriya Samachar Samiti (in The Himalayan Times)
   The Kathmandu Post
   The Kathmandu Post
   The Kathmandu Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                                 9
The Parliament Secretariat on May 14 started giving a booster dose of Covishield to members of the federal parliament,
officials at the Secretariat and the International Convention Center, aides to the parliamentarians, marshals and journalists
covering Parliament. However, it is learnt that even former lawmakers and family members of some lawmakers too got
vaccinated. The vaccination will continue on May 15 and 16.41

Healthcare workers returned without vaccinating people after there was a debate regarding the second dose COVID-19
vaccination in the Federal Parliament on May 16. The program was scheduled to vaccinate members of both Houses,
employees of parliamentary secretariat, security personnel and journalists doing parliamentary reporting. However, there was a
conflict when relatives of employees of other agencies and security personnel also turned up to get vaccinated. As such the
Health Office Kathmandu stopped the vaccination stating that people other than those planned had been included in it.42

There are doubts whether the senior citizens will get their second dose of Covishield vaccine on time. It’s been 12 weeks since
they received the first dose. We do not have enough vaccine available to provide the second dose, we will be able to inoculate
them only after the vaccine arrives, according to Dr Jhalak Sharma Gautam, Head of Vaccine Division. 43

Minister for Health and Population Hridayesh Tripathi has accused senior doctors of not being responsible in the treatment of
critically ill COVID-19 patients. He pointed out that only junior doctors were taking care of such patients. 44

Senior Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Paudel has said the government has been unable to bring the vaccine against
COVID-19 on time. He blamed the government for failing to control the pandemic. 45

Taking stock of the many lives lost due to government inaction and shortage of oxygen and beds in hospitals in the COVID-19
pandemic, the National Human Rights Commission has reminded the government about the provision of the right to health

   The Kathmandu Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                                 10
enshrined in the constitution and urged the authorities not to run away from their responsibility of ensuring access to health

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists has asked the government to be serious about controlling the COVID-19 pandemic
requesting the government to use all its resources for this.47

A joint appeal by 122 Nepali citizens has drawn the attention of constitutional bodies and the government to COVID-19 patients
losing lives due to the shortage of oxygen and news of commission on the import of vaccine. 48

The support to help Nepal fight COVID-19 has been increasing. Help has started to pour in after the Health Ministry, Foreign
Ministry, and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli made frequent appeals to and correspondence with international communities,
development partners, and Nepali agencies for support.49

The United Nations is ready to help Nepal in its battle against COVID-19. According to Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UN Resident
Coordinator of Nepal, PM KP Sharma Oli emphasized on the need for vaccine, oxygen, psychosocial support and social
security in a meeting with her, and the UN is ready to provide the needed support, she said. 50

Sara Beysolow Nyanti, UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal, has requested Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of
World Health Organization (WHO), to send vaccines to Nepal as the COVID-19 infection has surged here. 51

The US Department of Defense has announced that it will provide assistance worth US$ 2,750,000 to Nepal — this includes
assistance needed for oxygen cylinders, liquid oxygen, and storing oxygen.52

Nepal has asked for an oxygen plant as emergency help from China during a video conference between Nepal’s Finance

   The Himalayan Times

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                                  11
Ministry and China’s China International Development Cooperation Agency. The Chinese team has said it will need to do a
more detailed study about the plant and give an answer. China has announced to provide additional support equivalent to
Rs 90,000,000.53

A Nepal Airlines plane has been flying to China regularly for three days to bring 1,600 oxygen cylinders and 1,650 oxygen

Vehicles carrying oxygen cylinders and other healthcare materials provided by China to Nepal are en route to Tatopani from
Khasa. They will be sent to Kathmandu via fast track from Tatopani.55

The government will distribute the oxygen cylinders brought from China and Oman to hospitals of all seven provinces. 56

Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali has instructed the ambassadors to play an active role to bring vaccine, oxygen,
medicine, and healthcare materials to Nepal.57

The pandemic has already overwhelmed Nepal’s healthcare system and amidst all this analysts are now wondering if Nepal’s
own diplomatic efforts have been far-reaching enough to secure aid for the country. I have not seen or observed any sincere
efforts from the government to seek international support, said former foreign secretary and ambassador Durga Prasad
Bhattarai, adding most of this assistance is coming from the donor side since they have realized that they should support

The COVID-19 infection has reached its peak, according to the Ministry of Health and Population — the infection this week
increased by 14 per cent as compared to last week. Dr Biraj Karmacharya, epidemiologist at Dhulikhel Hospital, also called it

   The Kathmandu Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                               12
an indication that the infection in Nepal has reached its peak. The number of infections has remained stable in the past few
days, and this points at a possibility of decrease in infection rate, says infectious disease expert Dr Sher Bahadur Pun. 59

With almost the whole country under restrictions, the number of daily infections may be plateauing, but the death toll could
continue to rise, according to experts. It generally takes one week for people to get severely ill and a few more days to die,
according to Dr Keshav Deuba, a public health epidemiologist. Even if the number of cases does not continue to rise after a
certain point, those already infected will continue to die, he added.60

Experts have estimated COVID-19 deaths will increase in the next two weeks. For the death rate to decline, they have three
solutions — the government has to arrange for oxygen for critically ill patients, there has to be consultation for those staying in
home isolation, and people should not step out of their homes randomly.61

The graph of infections had climbed down in Nepal last year within a few weeks of COVID-19 infections reducing in India. This
year, the infections are already reducing in India, so experts expect it to reduce here within two to four weeks. The data of the
first week of Jestha (May 15 to 22) will make it easier to estimate how long it will take for the infections to decrease in Nepal.62

Shortage of oxygen has created chaos at the central COVID-19 hospital — Bir Hospital. A total of 12 people died due to a
shortage of oxygen at Bir Hospital while six succumbed at the National Trauma Center on May 13. 63

The Kathmandu Medical College Sinamangal has reduced the number of beds allotted to COVID-19 patients from 140 to 80
citing that the government has not provided sufficient oxygen. However, it has not shown any interest to repair its
malfunctioning oxygen plant and get it running again. The oxygen plant at the Bir Hospital has also been kept aside as it has

   The Kathmandu Post
   Annapurna Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                                  13
malfunctioned. The plant at Teku Hospital also stops working at times. It's been more than a year since the oxygen plant
stopped working at the Patan Hospital. Neither the hospital management nor the government has paid attention to this. 64

Healthcare workers and patients’ kin are busy running around for oxygen management at corona special hospitals of
Rupandehi. 65

Dr Sumitra Gautam, Medical Superintendent at Bhaktapur Hospital, has been asking for help on social media to arrange
oxygen needed for the treatment of patients there. The hospital needs 150 cylinders per day, but it has been allotted just 50

After the government imposed a quota system on distribution of oxygen, hospitals have started reducing the number of
patients being admitted.67

As COVID-19 patients lose their lives for want of oxygen, initiatives are yet to be taken to buy an oxygen plant for the district
hospitals of Sudurpaschim Province. The Province Ministry of Finance and Planning had given the nod to the Ministry of Social
Development to buy a big oxygen plant along with six mini-plants six months ago. The Social Development Ministry had then
written to district hospitals for confirmation of a budget of Rs 8 million each on April 9. However, the district hospitals are stuck
with the tender even though they received the letter almost one month ago. 68

If everything goes as planned, the Bajura District Hospital will have an oxygen plant up and running in a month’s time from
now. According to Hospital Acting Chief Dr Prakash Jaishi, a tender notice has been issued.69

The Nepal-Korea Friendship Hospital at Thimi, Bhaktapurhas started producing oxygen by establishing its own oxygen plant.
The air-based oxygen plant has already started supplying oxygen directly to the beds in the hospital where 41 COVID-19

   The Himalayan Times
   The Himalayan Times

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                                  14
patients are undergoing treatment.70

The hospitals in Pokhara have been managing oxygen efficiently, which is why patients from other places are chartering
helicopters to go there for treatment. According to Dr Sarad Chandra Baral, Focal Person of Western Regional Hospital,
Pokhara COVID, except for a couple of cases, the hospitals here do not use oxygen cylinders. Almost all hospitals have
oxygen pipelines connected to the beds, making oxygen management efficient, he said. 71

An oxygen plant has been set up at Gorkha Hospital, but it will take a few days to start the production of oxygen. 72

Machines needed to install oxygen plants have reached many districts of Karnali Province. However, most of them have not
been installed due to lack of electricity and human resources because of contractors’ carelessness.73

The Hetaunda Sub-Metropolitan City is set to make an oxygen plant by slashing the budget from its annual projects. It has
started to make an oxygen generator plant after COVID-19 patients at Makawanpur Hospital, and isolation centers have been
facing a difficulty due to the shortage of oxygen.74

The local governments of Dolakha have started installing oxygen plants to avoid oxygen shortage. 75

The oxygen plants of Sunsari are refilling cylinders and sending them to different parts of the country including Kathmandu and
Bhairahawa. 76

The Chitwan College of Medical Sciences of Bharatpur is preparing to start an oxygen plant within 10 to 15 days. It will
produce 200-250 cylinders of oxygen per day.77

   The Himalayan Times
   Annapurna Post
   Annapurna Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                            15
There is a high risk of COVID-19 spreading at a dangerous rate in Sudurpaschim Province. Around 100-150 positive cases are
reported in Kanchanpur district daily, but neither the local governments nor healthcare institutions have paid attention to either
contract tracing or testing as there are no Antigen Test kits of Viral Transport Medium (VTM) here. Likewise, those infected
with the virus are walking freely in the villages of Achham. Many in groups of 300-400 are going to the forests to pick kaphal
(bayberry) despite a couple in the group being infected. The local levels and police administration have remained silent even in
such a scenario. Similarly, almost every village of Darchula has people showing symptoms like that of coronavirus — fever and
common cold. However, they do not go for testing in the fear of being discriminated against if tested positive. Similar is the
case in Baitadi.78

Healthcare workers in Mugu, one of the mountain districts in Karnali Province, say they are facing challenges in treating
COVID-19 patients. According to the District Health Office in Mugu, 60 individuals tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two
weeks. Fifteen days ago, Mugu was identified as a green zone as there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19. The rate of
infection has escalated along with the increase in the number of people returning to the district from outside. At least five
individuals are testing positive for the virus on a daily basis.79

The health authority in coordination with the District Administration Office in Parsa has started COVID-19 testing after 11
people died and scores of villagers were taken ill in Jagarnathpur Rural Municipality in the past 10 days. Health workers
collected the swabs of 25 corona suspects and conducted Antigen Tests of 11 other patients in Jagarnathpur-5. Seven tested
positive for COVID-19 in the Antigen Test. 80

The COVID-19 infection has spread at the community level due to the delay in PCR test reports in Gorkha. Two in the district
died on May 14, three hours before their PRC test reports came back positive. The local levels of the district have been

   The Kathmandu Post
   The Kathmandu Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                               16
collecting swab samples from the villages and sending them for testing at the provincial lab, but results are not being sent even
after five/six days of sending the samples.81

There are about 200 COVID-19 infected people in Bhimsenthapa Rural Municipality of Gorkha. The infection has increased
because the locals of this rural area do not follow health protocols — they go anywhere freely, without masks, and cultural and
religious events continue to take place, as per Bhesh Raj Khanal, Chief of the Health Division here. 82

The Arghakhanchi Hospital, the only government health institution to provide healthcare for COVID-19 patients in the district,
does not have an ICU. A patient died for want of an ICU bed. The Ministry of Social Development has delayed providing
necessary medical supplies to the hospital, according to Dr Kapil Gautam, Chief at the hospital. It has been running on basic
medical infrastructure and is not equipped to deal with COVID-19 cases, according to healthcare workers.83

Ramechhap district has been facing a shortage of cetamol, an important medicine for seasonal ailments. Medicine suppliers
say the district is experiencing scarcity of paracetamol as the drug is also in short supply in Kathmandu and they are unable to
bring it.84

There has been a shortage of Antigen Test kits needed for coronavirus tests in the remote areas of Surkhet. 85

The B&C Hospital of Birtamode, Jhapa has already treated 22 COVID-19 patients airlifted to the hospital from different parts of
the nation, including Kathmandu. There are 200 beds for COVID-19 patients here — with 70 ICU and 60 ventilator beds.86

A 10-bed emergency unit has been started under the zinc roof at Teku Hospital after it became impossible to handle the
pressure of COVID-19 patients in its existing structure.87

   The Kathmandu Post
   The Himalayan Times
   Annapurna Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                              17
COVID-19 patients suffering from pneumonia are forced to sleep on the cold floor of Teku hospital — it has been providing
service on benches, chairs, and at its parking lot setting up tents after the hospital was overrun with COVID-19 patients.
However, the big buildings with advanced technology at Bir Hospital and Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) are
empty. Bir has refrained from admitting patients citing that there is shortage of oxygen. The TUTH is using only 40 beds of the
new building that has a capacity for 200 beds also due to lack of oxygen.88

As all beds are filled with COVID-19 patients in the Bheri Hospital, it has started treating patients under tents. However, the
patients and their kin have to manage oxygen on their own.89

The beds kept under tents set up at Bheri Hospitals have also been filled. Rather than sending back critically-ill COVID-19
patients visiting the hospital, it had been treating them under the tents set up on its premises after all the beds in the hospital
were occupied.90

The Bheri Hospital has been unable to manage high flow oxygen for all due to the pressure of COVID-19 patients there. The
hospital’s oxygen plant can produce oxygen sufficient for 100 patients, but the hospital has been managing to supply oxygen to
more than 250 patients at present. The ventilators there are not working properly due to the reduced flow of oxygen, increasing
the consumption of oxygen, while the recovery rate of the patients is not exciting.91

Supplier Jayesh Trading Concern has been selling oxygen that it buys at Rs 400 per cylinder for Rs 915, making a profit of
over 100 per cent. The Bheri Hospital management and the supplier seem to be in this together. Also, there is a curtailing in
the tender of the supply of oxygen at this hospital.92

Bheri Hospital’s oxygen supply system can cater to up to 100 patients tops. Presently, however the system is running at a

   Annapurna Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                                   18
stretch. As per data, there are more than 250 patients receiving oxygen at the hospital.93

The Seti Provincial Hospital has started to put COVID-19 patients in its surgical ward after its 60-bed temporary corona
hospital was unable to handle the pressure of infected patients. The surgical ward has 35 beds, but it will also not be able to
handle the pressure. The increase in number of infected patients has led to a spike in the demand for oxygen, but the hospital
has not been able to meet the demand.94

The COVID-19 patients are being treated in the general ward of the district hospital of Bardiya as COVID hospitals at the local
levels lack human resources and oxygen.95

Hetaunda Hospital has referred 40 of its COVID-19 patients to different hospitals of Chitwan, Sindhuli and Kathmandu as it
faced a shortage of oxygen. The temporary corona hospital of Dhading Besi also referred four of its patients to Kathmandu and
Nuwakot due to oxygen shortage. 96

Dhulikhel Hospital in Kavre has not been taking in new COVID-19 patients due to shortage of oxygen. Scheer Memorial
Hospital of Banepa has reduced the amount of oxygen to be given to the patients due to its shortage. 97

The COVID-19 hospital of Makawanpur will treat only seriously ill patients as there has been a shortage of oxygen and beds

The Karnali Provincial Hospital, Surkhet has notified that it is unable to admit new COVID-19 patients in the shortage of
oxygen. It reached the decision after the supply of oxygen to the hospital from Nepalgunj stopped. 99

The Chitwan Medical College has said it has become difficult for them to treat COVID-19 patients after the District

   The Himalayan Times
   Annapurna Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                             19
Administration Office (DAO) Chitwan reduced the number of oxygen cylinders it was getting. The hospital had asked for 400
cylinders, while the DAO is set to give them 250 cylinders per day.100

There has been a shortage of ventilators and oxygen in the district hospital of Humla. This has caused problems in the
treatment of critically ill patients.101

Two private hospitals in Saptari District — Unique Hospital in Rayapur and Chhinnamasta Hospital in Rajbiraj — have been
converted into COVID-19 hospitals. 102

The BP Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital Bharatpur has started a 140-bed COVID-19 ward with ICU.103

Doti’s Badikedar Rural Municipality has brought a 10-bed COVID-19 hospital into operation and started treating patients. It has
an isolation ward. Six healthcare workers including a doctor attend the patients.104

The local administration of Udayapur has speeded up its preparation for the treatment of COVID-19 patients after a surge in
infections there.105

The Chandragiri Municipality has started isolation centers in three areas with the increase in COVID-19 infections there.106

The COVID hospital and isolation centers of the different local levels of Tikapur neither have doctors or healthcare materials for
the infected patients. The structures are useless for treatment of patients.107 — 107 Nagarik, May 14

Banepa Municipality is set to bring into operation a COVID-19 hospital in association with Bhomi Hospital.108

    The Kathmandu Post
    The Himalayan Times
    Annapurna Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                                20
Most of the local levels of Province 1 have started making their own isolation facilities after it became difficult for COVID-19
patients to get treated at hospitals.109

Many people are tackling COVID-19 at home and not seeking medical help. And they have a reason not to. With government
hospitals overwhelmed and the country facing an acute shortage of oxygen and other medical supplies, many private hospitals
over the past few days have published notices saying they cannot take in new patients. 110

A total of 100,771 people infected with COVID-19 are staying in home isolation in Nepal at present.111

After the beds of hospitals in Rajbiraj that had been admitting symptomatic COVID-19 patients and those in critical condition
were filled, the infected have been staying in home isolation. However, those in home isolation are dying due to lack of

The COVID-19 patients of Tanahun do not stay at the isolation centers prepared by the local levels because as the infection is
more dangerous than last time’s, they try to go to well-equipped hospitals. 113

The majority of the isolation centers readied by the local levels of Makawanpur district are empty as the COVID-19 patients are
staying in home isolation.114

One can dial 102 to avail of the free ambulance service run by the Nepal Ambulance Service. It has been providing free
service to more than 160 a day. It has provided service to 8,843 COVID-19 patients in the past one year.115

The Bharatpur Hospital has started a health desk where the public can get information on beds and oxygen for COVID-19

    The Kathmandu Post
    Annapurna Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                                    21
patients, while those in home isolation too can get avail of consultation with doctors.116

Healthcare workers in the remote Himali Rural Municipality of Bajura have started reaching out to households in a bid to
provide treatment as well as counseling service to COVID-19 patients.117

The Bheri Municipality has put two days’ salary of public representatives, teachers and staff under it to the disaster
management fund for the control of COVID-19.118

A total of 560 sets of oxygen cylinders have arrived in Kathmandu from Oman sent by the Non-Resident Nepalis from the
Middle East.119

Lhasa has gifted four sets of ventilators to the Kathmandu Metropolitan City.120

Hamro Doctor Online is all set to provide free COVID-19 counseling service for service –seekers from May 19 onwards with its
‘Hamro Doctor’ mobile app.121

Two females from Bhaktapur — Poonam Karmacharya, 24, and Jiya Joshi, 21, who are the members of RNA-16 volunteer
group, have been working in managing disposing of bodies of the COVID-dead. 122

A group of five youngsters have been managing the bodies of COVID-dead in Biratnagar — they attend cremations five times
a day.123

The Bidur Municipality has given a ventilator as support to the district hospital of Trishuli.124

    The Himalayan Times
    Annapurna Post
    Annapurna Post
    Rastriya Samachar Samiti (in The Himalayan Times)

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                            22
The Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries has started a 50-bed isolation center at Jain Niketan of
Kamalpokhari, Kathmandu.125

The Chaudhary Foundation will set up an 18-bed ICU ward and oxygen plant at Bir Hospital. It will also set up one oxygen
plant each in Dhangadi Municipality and Surkhet Municipality of Sudurpaschim.126

The Sunrise Foundation Nepal has given two oxygen concentrators to Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital,

Durga Nath Dahal, President of Nawajiban Paropakar Samaj, has been distributing oxygen free of cost to people from
financially weak background.128

Oxygen bank has been set up at Beni Hospital of Myagdi.129

The Bagmati Province Police has collected 600 units of oxygen cylinders and handed them over to hospitals and isolation

A Nepal Police team has collected more than 109 oxygen cylinders from different places of Tanahun on May 15 and provided
the same to different hospitals.131

Efforts are being made to address the shortage of oxygen in Taplejung — Taplejung Hospital along with Taplejung Chamber of
Commerce and Industries have made efforts to manage 40 oxygen cylinders immediately. 132

    Annapurna Post
    The Himalayan Times

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                            23
Political leaders, businessmen and the public have been providing financial support to help Dhangadi Sub-Metropolitan City set
up an oxygen plant. 133

Non-Resident Nepalis, business houses, and businessmen have been extending hands to help Nepal combat the COVID-19

Non-Resident Nepalis from different parts of the world are preparing to send healthcare materials worth more than Rs
20,000,000 to Nepal.135

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Banke branch has prepared to operate an ambulance in the district to provide service
for journalists and the public amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.136

Local levels, governmental and non-governmental organizations, healthcare workers and civil society members in Bajura have
jointly launched a public awareness campaign against COVID-19 in the remote villages of the district.137

Former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has sent healthcare materials — half-foldable mattresses, bed lockers, IV stands,
PPE sets — to his district Dadeldhura.138

The risk of community transmission of COVID-19 remains large as there are no proper provisions for quarantining of
individuals who are returning (some 200 daily now) to Nepal via the Gaddachauki border point along the Nepal-India border in
Kanchanpur. Most make their way home directly from there. There is also no proper testing and tracing of returnees. The
Sudurpaschim government had planned to set up holding facilities for returnees and conduct their health check-up before

    The Himalayan Times

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                           24
sending them home. However, this plan has translated into flimsy tents held up by bamboo poles with no provisions of health
check-up or even beds and other necessities for returnees as promised.139

The crowd of people returning home at the western border checkpost has not stopped. Hundreds of Nepalis, who have lost
their jobs due to lockdown and fear of coronavirus, have been returning from India via the Gaddachauki and Trinagar
checkposts. However, their health check-up is not being carried out. The Antigen Test has been carried out in only a few

The crowd of people returning home from India has not reduced at the border checkposts of Sudurpaschim Province. The data
of the last 15 days shows that on an average 1,300 people are entering Nepal daily from Gaddachauki and Gauriphanta

The average price of Remdesivir medicine set by the government is Rs 5,000. However, it is being sold at up to Rs 50,000 in
the market. Even in the black market, it can be purchased only via a secret channel.142


                                                    National News

The vaccination drive to administer the second dose of Vero Cell vaccine has started in all 32 wards of Kathmandu

    The Kathmandu Post
    Annapurna Post
    Annapurna Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                            25
Metropolitan City.143
The Nepal Teachers’ Association has demanded that COVID-19 vaccine be provided to teachers and employees of schools.144

Voters eligible to vote in the National Assembly by-elections will need to showcase a negative PCR report done within 72
hours, wash hands with soap and water, use sanitizer, and wear a mask while entering the election center. A separate poll
booth will be arranged for the voters infected with COVID-19.145

There are no prohibitory orders in three out of 77 districts of the country. They are Khotang, Manang, and Terhathum. The
Chief District Officers of these districts claim that if people are disciplined, there is no need to issue prohibitory orders to control
the pandemic.146

Tanahun District Administration Office has extended the prohibitory orders till May 29.147

Rautahat District Administration Office has extended prohibitory orders by one week till May 21.148

Siraha has decided to impose prohibitory orders across the district effective from May 14 night till June 4. 149

The Nepal Army has been mobilized in Sunsari district to make sure the prohibitory orders are effective. 150

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Bhanubhakta Dhakal has decided to provide motivation allowance to those
burning the bodies of COVID-dead at Pashupati Aryaghat. They will get Rs 1,000 for each such body.151

    The Himalayan Times
    The Himalayan Times
    The Himalayan Times
    Annapurna Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                                     26
Minister for Forest and Environment Prem Bahadur Ale has given instructions to ensure that there is no shortage of firewood at
the Pashupati Aryaghat needed to cremate bodies.152

A writ petition has been filed at the Supreme Court demanding proper management of ventilators, oxygen cylinders and
medicines needed for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.153

A writ petition has been filed against the Karnali Provincial Government at the High Court of Surkhet for not playing an
effective role in the prevention, control and management of COVID-19 in the province.154

The Social Development Committee of the Provincial Assembly of Karnali has instructed the provincial government to be
serious about controlling the spread of COVID-19. It has also instructed the government to immediately start an oxygen plant
that can fill 1,000 oxygen cylinders a day.155

COVID-19 patients of Province 2 are dying due to a complacent government, but the Province’s Social Development Minister
Nawal Kishor Shah is busy hiding government’s failure in carrying out its duties.156

Parliamentarian Ganga Chaudhari has been accused of hiding China-gifted oxygen cylinders at her home. However, she has
denied the allegation saying that she had kept it for the COVID-19 isolation center of Lamahi in Dang.157

A tipper is usually used to ferry garbage and river products, but it is being used to carry the bodies of COVID-19 dead in
Bajura’s Badimalika Municipality for want of a hearse.158

There are 20 ambulances in Panchthar, but it is always difficult to get one when patients are in need. 159

    The Himalayan Times

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The ambulances in Dang are charging four times more than the original fare to carry COVID-19 patients.160

Birgunj Police has arrested two ambulance drivers for charging more money than the fare set by the government. 161

Kathmandu Metropolitan City has asked the schools in its area to conduct exams by June 3. The exams can be taken online,
offline or by sending questions via telephone, email etc, as per the school’s convenience. 162

There have been many cases of healthcare workers, who have taken both doses of anti-COVID vaccine, being infected with
the virus. However, the symptoms have been mild in most protecting them from becoming critical.163

The insurance companies concerned will have to bear all expenses of COVID-infected staff. The Insurance Board on May 15
gave the order which decrees that the companies will have to bear the expenses of PCR test and others undertaken. 164

Most owners of corporate houses in Nepal are silent despite the pandemic raging through the country. Industrialists and
businessmen have not shown expected help during the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.165

Many coronavirus patients who cannot go out to do their shopping are in big trouble after not being able to get daily essentials.
Online stores are confused about providing service due to lack of clear guidelines from the government regarding e-commerce.
They deliver to a very limited number of places and also at certain times. This has made life difficult for both sellers and

    Annapurna Post
    Annapurna Post
    The Kathmandu Post

WHE Communications Intelligence                                                                                              28
A public notice issued on May 14 by the Nepal Police has encouraged victims of gender-based violence, sexual harassment
and domestic violence to come forward with complaints if they face any such abuses. Nepali Police said the victims can report
the incidents by calling 100 or 104, or complaints may be lodged through the Facebook page of Nepal Police.167

Furtenbach Adventures has canceled its Mount Everest expedition due to increasing COVID-19 infections at the base camp.168

China has canceled attempts to climb Mount Everest from its side because of fears of importing COVID-19 from Nepal, state
media reported. China’s General Administration of Sports scrapped the expeditions.169

Singer Prakash Saput, who has recovered from COVID-19, has said one can win over the virus with a strong willpower.170

Nepal on May 13 permitted a number of ‘special flights’ as requested by foreign embassies to evacuate their citizens. The
evacuation flights will begin on May 14.171

The Central Zoo at Jawalakhel, Kathmandu is staring at a tough time ahead as its major source of income, which comes from
visitors, has dried up due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Zoo officials are worried about how to feed the hundreds of captive
animals amid the paucity of funds. The Zoo has remained closed since last month.172

Expressing his gratitude to doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, and other healthcare workers involved in the treatment of
COVID-19 patients, President of Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba has praised their efforts.173

    The Himalayan Times
    The Himalayan Times
    The Associated Press (in The Himalayan Times)
    The Kathmandu Post
    The Kathmandu Post

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International News

COVID-19 infections in adults of all ages fell by 80 per cent five weeks after a first dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca
vaccine, according to Italian research published on May 15, the first such study by a European Union country on the real-world
impact of its immunization campaign.174

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the alarm on May 14 over the rapid spread of COVID-19 through India’s
countryside as 4,000 people died from the virus on the third straight day and total infections crossed 24 million. Modi said his
government was “on a war footing” to try to contain the highly transmissible B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus.175
India reported its smallest daily increase in coronavirus infections in nearly three weeks on May 15 with deaths still near the
4,000-mark but federal health officials said cases and fatalities are rapidly stabilizing in this wave of the pandemic.176

Taiwan imposed new restrictions in its capital city today as it battled its worst outbreak since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Authorities raised level 3 alert for Taipei and the surrounding area of New Taipei City which remains in effect for two weeks.177

The origin of the novel coronavirus is still unclear and the theory that it was caused by a laboratory leak needs to be taken
seriously until there is a rigorous data-led investigation that proves it wrong, a group of leading scientists said. Theories of
accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable, they said.178

    Reuters (in The Himalayan Times)
    Reuters (in The Himalayan Times)
    Reuters (in The Kathmandu Post)
    The Associated Press (in The Himalayan Times)
    Reuters (in The Himalayan Times)

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Contacts for further details

Dr Sunoor Verma
Strategic, Risk and Crisis Communication Consultant
World Health Organization, Country Office for Nepal

Ms Tsering Dolkar Gurung
NPO (Communication, Media and Public Information)
World Health Organization, Country Office for Nepal

WHO’s COVID-19 response in Nepal is made possible through the generous support of the
Government of Azerbaijan,
UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO),
Government of Germany and USAID.

Reference Code: 21MAY17MM_10B

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