Nepalese hospitals run out of beds as India coronavirus outbreaks spills across border

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Hospitals in Nepal have run out of beds and vaccine supply is dwindling as India’s massive coronavirus outbreak has spilled past its border into the small, neighboring country. 

The Nepal Health Ministry on Friday issued a statement saying that the coronavirus situation in the country has become “unmanageable.” 

“As the number of infections has been increasing, the health system is not able to cope and a situation has already arisen in which hospital beds cannot be made available,” the statement read. 

According to The New York Times, Nepal recorded 5,657 new coronavirus infections on Friday, the highest daily number recorded in the South Asian country since October. 

Health experts have theorized that the outbreak in Nepal was spurred by migrant workers who have returned home in recent weeks amid lockdown orders in India, which recorded more than 400,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time on Saturday. 

More than one-third of coronavirus tests in Nepal are coming back positive, and officials have urged Nepalis experiencing minor symptoms to stay home in order to keep the number of hospitalizations down, according to the Times. 

Vaccine supply has also been disrupted by the outbreak in India, which had donated 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Nepal. 

Nepal had signed an agreement for an additional 2 million shots from the Serum Institute of India, but as of Saturday, just 380,000 of the roughly 1.7 million people in Nepal who have been vaccinated have received their second dose, the Times reported. 

Amid the record surge, India opened coronavirus vaccinations to all adults on Saturday.

The country thus far has struggled to make the vaccine accessible and affordable to its nearly 1.4 billion people. 

The Associated Press reported Saturday that while government shots have been provided to people for free, private hospitals have charged around $3, or 250 rupees. However, this could change as prices are determined by vaccine companies. 

The United States announced Friday that it was sending a top diplomat to the country to better aid India in addressing the rapid surge. The Biden administration also announced it will ban most travel from India starting Tuesday.

Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert in the U.S., said in an interview with The Indian Express published Friday that the country should consider actions the military could take to help curb the spread of COVID-19, including a period of nationwide lockdown. 

Tags Anthony Fauci AstraZeneca biden administration coronavirus outbreak coronavirus pandemic coronavirus vaccine India Nepal New York Times The Associated Press vaccine distribution

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