Between January and February 2022, Nepal experienced the third COVID-19 surge fuelled by the Omicron variant, with 148,553 new cases diagnosed. The total since the start of the pandemic in Nepal increased to 976,984 cases (86,223 under the age of 20) and 11,936 deaths by end February.1 The Omicron’s unprecedented rise in cases occurred mainly between early and late January, and thereafter Nepal continued to see a substantial decline in the average daily reported COVID-19 cases.
Over 37 million doses1 of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered by the Government of Nepal (GoN), as of 28 February, covering around 91 per cent of the target population (above 18 years of age) with the first dose and over 78 per cent with two doses. The vaccination of children began in November 2021, and as of February 2022, around 89 per cent of the targeted child population (12 -17 years of age), received a first dose and 48 per cent two doses.
UNICEF delivered both COVID-19 vaccines and more than 16 million syringes to the government during the reporting period. UNICEF also distributed in-line, solar direct-drive, and walk-in refrigerators, vaccine carriers, oxygen concentrators and oxygen cylinders.
UNICEF supported 5,762 children (50 per cent girls) to access formal or non-formal education, through the tole-sikshya (community learning circles) programme and equipped them with supplementary learning support.
Situation in Numbers
976,984 Confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in Nepal (MoHP, as of 28 Feb.)
86,223 Children under the age of 19 years tested COVID-19 positive
752,400 Children in need
1.8 million People in need of humanitarian assistance
Funding Overview and Partnerships
Based on the UNICEF Nepal Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) Appeal for 2022, UNICEF requires US$27.3 million to meet the needs of children, women and families in Nepal affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to respond to the annual monsoon season hazards such as floods and landslides. To date, UNICEF has not received any funding against the 2022 HAC and only has US$ 4,093,323 as a carryover from 2021, including funds received in late 2021 available for programme implementation. UNICEF is thankful for all the contributions received to date and expresses its sincere gratitude to all the donors for helping families and children in Nepal. However, UNICEF Nepal will require additional contributions to close the current funding gap of US$ 23,180,691. UNICEF will continue to partner with donors to ensure sufficient resources are mobilized to address the needs of children and communities in Nepal. Without the needed funding, at least 752,000 children and their families and around 1.8 million1 people in need, may not have access to vital humanitarian support they need in Nepal.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
Between January and February 2022, Nepal experienced the COVID-19 third wave with the Omicron variant. The average daily reported number of COVID-19 new cases jumped at an alarming rate. For example, daily cases increased from 342 on 1 January to 3,703 cases2 on 15 January, with 21,584 active cases. This third wave surpassed the peak of the previous second wave, driven by the Delta variant, with more than 10,052 daily new cases reported on 20 January, with 57,328 active cases and 47. 9 percent positivity rate—from Real-Time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests—and 52.6 per cent positivity rate from a day earlier, according to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) data. The major Omicron increase of cases was reported between first week and third week of January, and later fluctuating numbers and positivity rate were recorded until late January. Owing to the risk of Omicron surge, the government decided to close schools3 across the country from 11 January to 29 January as per the recommendation4 of the GoN/COVID-19 Crisis Management Coordination Centre (CCMCC). Similarly, due to the continued spike in cases, on 17 January the government announced stricter restrictions5 . Earlier, on 16 January, the government issued a new order/directive6 titled “Directive on the Prevention and Control of the Omicron-driven Third Wave-2022,” based on which the restrictions were announced. Meanwhile, globally, on 19 January the World Health Organization (WHO) in its briefing7 said that though Omicron infections on average may be less severe, it was not a mild disease. From late January onwards, the COVID-19 cases saw a downward trend in Nepal and a significant decline in new cases. Compared to January, new cases dropped to 498 on 15 February and eventually to 119 on 28 February. As a result, the CCMCC recommended that the government reopen the schools from February 13 and ease 8 vehicular and other restrictions. Subsequently schools were reopened for in-person classes.
The reported cumulative number of total COVID-19 related fatalities since the beginning of pandemic in Nepal reached 11,936 by the end of February. The COVID-19 caseload national tally reached 976,984 on 28 February, including 86,223 children (under the age of 20) including 22,241 children under the age of 10 (12,967 males and 9274 females), infected since the beginning of pandemic, while the cumulative recovery rate reached 97.9 per cent.
Monsoon rainfall poses potential challenges of floods and landslides from May to September, which may lead to additional humanitarian impacts on the lives of women and children.