• As of 30 June, the COVID-19 caseload has reached 640,662 people of which 58,911 are children, an increase of more than 110 percent over only two months. The cases increased exponentially from 150 cases per day in early April to 9,300 cases per day in May, marking the second wave of COVID-19. Following lockdowns in 75 out of 77 districts, the reported number of daily cases has started showing a decline since midMay. However, the test positivity rate remains high at 25 per cent, underlying the risk of resurgence of cases, as adherence to public health and social measures decreases following ease of lockdowns.
• As global vaccine scarcity continues, vaccination efforts have been constrained and only 2.55 per cent of Nepal’s population have been fully vaccinated. UNICEF continues to provide technical and logistical support to the vaccination campaigns; however, Nepal is in urgent need of additional vaccine doses to complete vaccination of high-risk groups and beyond, especially during the current surge.
• Children, their families, migrant returnees and child- and female-headed households bear the brunt of the COVID-19 impact highlighting the critical need for humanitarian response and crisis recovery efforts at all levels.
• Flooding and landslide that started in the second week of June have further exacerbated the hardship caused by COVID-19 affecting people’s lives and properties in 86 municipalities of 38 districts across all seven provinces. UNICEF has provided technical support, services and supplies in health, WASH, child protection, social protection, risk communication and community engagement and education to respond to the crisis of COVID-19 as well as monsoon induced floods and landslides.
• Despite the generous contribution from donors to date, halfway through the year UNICEF Nepal still urgently needs an additional US$ 18,900,038 to ensure a response for families and children in Nepal during the current crisis. If this funding is not secured, UNICEF’s ability to provide lifesaving assistance will be severely limited.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
By the end of June, the reported number of people who have died in the pandemic exceeded 9,000, surpassing the official death toll in the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. The COVID-19 caseload reached 640,662 on June 30, including 58,911 children infected since the beginning of pandemic, an increase by more than 110 percent over a period of only two months. The cases increased exponentially from 150 cases per day in the early April to 9,300 cases per day in May. Following the lockdowns in 75 out of 77 districts, the reported number of daily cases started to decline. While data suggest that new cases are reducing, anecdotal evidence indicates widespread community transmission continues in the rural areas where testing facilities are limited. The test positivity rate that reached 45 percent in May has gradually declined but remains high at 25 percent; the case positivity rate above five per cent is considered a public health concern. Many districts in the country, including those in the capital, have eased the lockdown allowing most businesses to reopen, more vehicles to ply the streets and flights to resume. The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) on 21 June has confirmed the detection of a new mutation of Delta variant (B.1.617.2) of COVID-19 as the main variant circulating in the country. Risks of infection remains high as merely 2.55 per cent of the total population have received complete doses of the vaccine, whereas the ease of lockdown has seen reduced compliance to the public health social measures.
In addition, sporadic protests have resumed with the deteriorating political climate adding to the existing risks.
Schools continue to be closed and studies reveal that half the students do not have access to distance learning.
Regular immunization drives are disrupted. More than a half of Nepalis lost their jobs in the past months amidst the second wave, and loss of household income has directly impacted children on multiple fronts according to UNICEF Nepal Child and Family Tracker (CFT) Survey.
Flooding and landslides have further exacerbated the hardship caused by COVID-19 in some parts of the country as the monsoon that started from second week of June has already caused 52 incidents of landslide and flood affecting people’s lives and properties in 86 municipalities of 38 districts across all seven provinces. 28 deaths (including 11 women), 23 injuries and 25 missing people, 207 affected families and loss of properties worth more than US$ 270,000 have been reported till the end of June.
Access to the affected population is a huge challenge in many locations as bridges are washed away and roads are blocked due to landslides. The situation also poses a risk for higher COVID-19 infection as displaced people come together in common shelters and do not have adequate resources to follow necessary public health protocols. Meanwhile, the political stalemate continues in the country with a government of only five ministers following the dismissal of new appointments of 20 Ministers by the Prime Minister after the dissolution of House, a simultaneous hearing against House Dissolution at the Supreme Court continued.