Coronavirus isn't just spreading at Nepal's Everest Base Camp, but across the country, and in numbers that suggest it could be headed for a worse crisis than in neighboring India. Within a month, Nepal has gone from 100 daily COVID-19 cases to 8,600. That's about the same number of cases per capita "as India was reporting two weeks ago," per CNN. The Guardian describes a national test positivity rate of a shocking 47%, about double that in India. "What is happening in India right now is a horrifying preview of Nepal's future if we cannot contain this latest COVID surge that is claiming more lives by the minute," says Dr. Netra Prasad Timsina, chair of Nepal's Red Cross Society, per Reuters. Nepal only has 1,595 intensive care beds and 480 ventilators for 30 million people, per CNN. Just 7.2% had received at least one dose of vaccine by the end of April.
"The government is trying its best, but we have a very weak and fragile healthcare system," health ministry rep, Dr. Samir Adhikari, said Monday, per CNN. "The situations are worsening day by day," he added. Thousands of migrant workers returned to Nepal from India just before a two-week lockdown was instituted in Kathmandu on April 29. A day later, the health ministry said infections had "increased beyond the control of the health system." Many Nepalis gathered for religious festivals in April and some traveled to India to celebrate Kumbh Mela. Among them were Nepal's former King Gyanendra Shah and Queen Komal Shah, who were hospitalized with COVID-19 on their return, per CNN. International flights are banned as of Thursday, while Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli—who previously described the virus as "like the flu"—is appealing to the international community for help. (Read more Nepal stories.)