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Coronavirus and Situation in Nepal

Coronaviruses are known to cause deadly diseases in mammals and birds. Some outbreaks caused in the past due to coronaviruses are MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). The novel Coronavirus or the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new strain of Coronavirus that has not previously been detected in humans. The disease associated with the virus has been named COVID-19.

The outbreak started in Wuhan, China, and, like other coronaviruses, was transmitted from animals to humans. This has caused notable panic among the people as this is a relatively new disease. The source of the outbreak has not been confirmed. Snakes and bats are some common speculations.

Coronavirus Symptoms

Coronaviruses can have a variety of different symptoms in different beings. They range from bad diarrhea to a deadly cold. The novel Coronavirus has been reported to cause coughing, fever, and respiratory difficulties. This can put the patient at risk of pneumonia.

The symptoms seem to start with a fever and tiredness and can lead to shortness of breath after about a week. In severe cases, there is a possibility of organ failure. The recovery depends on the strength of the individual immune system. The people who have died due to this virus had immune systems that were already weak to start with. Because the disease can also be transmitted from humans to humans, anyone who has traveled to mainland China and has been experiencing these symptoms is advised to stay indoors and reach out for health services.

The incubation period has been informed to be up to 14 days by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, researchers have estimated a length of 24 days.

Coronavirus Update

The number of confirmed cases exceeds 78000. As of February 20, 2020, over 2000 deaths have been recorded due to COVID-19, with eight deaths outside of mainland China. The virus has also spread to 28 countries, including Japan, France, Taiwan, Iran, the UK, the Philippines, and many more. With the number of confirmed cases increasing every day and people traveling all around the globe, it can get tricky to control the situation. This is considering the fact that people with the novel coronavirus carry the same load of the virus whether or not they are currently showing the symptoms.

Many countries are attempting to check the situation by conducting temperature checks at airports. With a fatality rate of 2.3%, the disease is fatal than influenza, but less than SARS and MERS. For a disease as new as COVID-19, the initial fatality rate cannot truly determine the danger of disease. There also is no vaccine against the disease yet.

Coronavirus and Nepal

Being a neighboring country of China, where the outbreak started, puts Nepal in a vulnerable position. Nepal sees a massive inflow of Chinese tourists every year and even has citizens residing in China for job opportunities or education purposes. These people could travel and transmit the disease. While there are screenings at airports, the long incubation period hinders their effectiveness. This has raised concerns among, and everybody is watching how the government reacts to the issue.

Densely populated urban areas and the lack of proper hygiene in rural areas make Nepal susceptible to the epidemic. The lack of healthcare and awareness are the significant barriers that the government has to tackle. The country has also seen quite a few outbreaks of other respiratory diseases like influenza and swine flu. The media reports on cases of “unknown viral diseases,” which helps to spread awareness among the people so that they will not write it off as common cold.

Cases of Coronavirus in Nepal

There has been one confirmed case of Coronavirus in Nepal. The patient was a 32-year-old man who was a student at the Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan, China. He was admitted to Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Kathmandu, after showing symptoms like throat congestion and cough. As Nepal lacks the proper technology, his samples had to be sent to the WHO for testing. They came back positive. However, the patient had already been discharged after his health condition had improved. This action has been heavily criticized by the media and the public.

Government Efforts and Initiatives

The government has planned to place patients of COVID-19 in public hospitals. Such hospitals lack the necessary space and equipment to treat patients suffering from such pathogenic diseases. They have a limited number of ICU beds that are occupied most of the time, and even have a long list of people waiting for their turn. Most hospitals do not have a personal/individual room for the patients. The lack of isolation rooms in hospitals across the country has raised concerns for the safety of other patients admitted in the same hospital as COVID-19 patients.

So far, the government has appointed five hospitals for the treatment of the COVID-19: Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Bir Hospital, Civil Hospital, Patan Hospital, and Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. All these hospitals are located in the Kathmandu Valley. This has garnered concerns from the people outside the valley as they do not have an official government-appointed hospital to visit in case of scares.

The government has also issued strict directives to prevent the transmission and spread of COVID-19. The outbreak in China has put the government on high alert, especially as the country sees a massive inflow of people from China. The Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital and the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division have initiated health screenings of passengers from China, Japan, and Thailand at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). A health desk has also been deployed at TIA to detect infection. We can say that the authorities of TIA have been quite responsive to the situation, and have taken the necessary measures.

The outbreak could delay the construction of the Pokhara Regional International Airport, which was scheduled to open in July 2020. The Chinese laborers working on the airport had returned to China for the Lunar New Year in January. Due to the outbreak, the workers are undergoing quarantine in China, making them unable to return in time for the completion of the project.

After the WHO declared the Coronavirus outbreak a “public health emergency,” Nepal has taken strict measures as suggested by the UN for prevention and detection. The government is in regular contact with the WHO office in Nepal regarding the actions that Nepal can take. Nepal has taken measures to strengthen its health system and increase surveillance. The Health Ministry has also planned to train health workers from all hospitals, and make all government offices aware of the risks of COVID-19. As recommended by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, the government and media are doing all they can to ensure that all relevant information regarding the outbreak is shared openly and rapidly.

Global Tourism Industry and the Effects of Coronavirus in it

China is one of the biggest markets for overseas tourism. The outbreak has had devastating effects on global tourism. Asia’s tourism-dependent economies definitely can feel this. With prospective Chinese tourists canceling tours, the hotels, theme parks, and guides are all suffering. The outbreak has upset supply chains throughout the world, especially in South-East Asia. This includes countries like Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand. If this continues for three to six more months, the result could be catastrophic. The good news is that China has implemented a ban on animal markets. This could curb wildlife trafficking and save some endangered species. 

Is Nepal safe from Coronavirus?

Nepal feels the effect of the fear of the outbreak. The first is the direct effect felt from the absence of Chinese tourists. Nepal’s tourist hubs like Thamel, Kathmandu, and Phewa Lake, Pokhara, have begun to feel quite empty due to the lack of Chinese tourists who would add to the diverse environment. Despite having zero deaths from COVID-19 and only one verified case, Nepal can also feel its reputation being dragged down due to the spread of the infection. The Indian government has begun screening people from Nepal, which has only caused more panic among prospective Indian tourists. The tourism industry has not only seen cancellations from Chinese tourists, but also from tourists from other countries as well. Nepal had already been seeing fewer Chinese tourists due to its Spring Festival. The trekking companies had already had clients backing out due to the Annapurna avalanche. The upcoming spring season is usually when Nepal sees a boom in the tourism industry. However, this may not be the case this year. Being so close to China, many people are apprehensive about visiting Nepal due to the coronavirus outbreak.

One can agree that prevention is better than cure. It is the same with the situation at hand. There are specific steps that one can take to protect themselves from the novel Coronavirus. The WHO suggests maintaining primary hand and respiratory hygiene and safe food practices. UNICEF advises people to frequently wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub. People should sneeze or cough into their elbow and should avoid close contact with those who show flu-like symptoms and live near wild or farmed animals. Raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided and handled with care to prevent cross-contamination.

Conclusion

It is a frightening time for us all as we are up against something relatively unknown. However, we should stay calm and alert during such times. Panicking does not help the situation. The government has decided to launch a campaign to spread the word that Nepal is free from the outbreak and safe to visit. This is quite true, with only one verified patient who has already seemingly recovered.   

Why You Should Visit Nepal

Nepal is one of the best tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. The country, located between two giants, India and China, is filled with varieties of beautiful natural features as well as diverse cultures. Here are some reasons to visit the beautiful country, Nepal.

Local Market

The highest mountain in the world

Mt. Everest views on the back

Nepal is known as the home of the tallest peak of the world, Mt. Everest. It is located on the northeast side of Nepal and borders with India in the east and Tibet in the north. The majestic mountain lies in the Khumbu region, which is mostly inhabited by the Sherpa community. Due to this reason, Sherpa people have now become synonymous with mountains and mountaineering.

Various trekking routes in the Khumbu region celebrates the beauty of Everest through multiple angles. The majority of the tourists come here to trek till Everest Base Camp, but the daring ones aim for the summit. Every year, thousands of tourists flock to the Khumbu region to bask in the scenic views of Everest and its neighboring mountains like Ama Dablam, Nuptse, and Lhotse.

Besides the Base camp trek, there are other alternatives in the Khumbu region like Island Peak trek and Gokyo Lakes, where tourists can enjoy the serene beauty of the region. To travel and trek in the Kumbu region, tourists need to prepare necessary permits before heading out.

Different culture

worshiping [culture]

Nepal is one of the culturally diverse countries in the world. Due to this reason, Nepal stands out from rest in terms of culture. The country houses 126 ethnic groups, and the government has recognized 59 indigenous nationalities. All these ethnic and indigenous communities have their own set of cultures and traditions, thus making each of them unique and charming. The mutual harmony that coexists between all these different cultures also highlights the charms of Nepal. 

Delicious variety of cuisines and friendly people

Nepali delicious food [Dal Bhat]

The diverse culture gives birth to a wide range of cuisines across the country. From east to west, various foods are unique to that particular region only. Dal Bhat (rice and lentil soup) is the staple food of the country, and besides that, there is a wide range of food that suits the palate of each tourist who visits Nepal.

Momo, Newari Khaja set, and Thakali khana set are some of the most popular dishes one should not miss out when in Nepal.

According to geography, climate, and crop availability, different communities have their unique cuisine. For example, the Newari population is mostly inhabited in the hilly region like Kathmandu valley, so they have a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. For the Sherpa people, potato, barley, and maize are the staple crops, so their dishes also revolve around these crops.

Similarly, the Gurungs who mostly inhabit the western hills primarily include buckwheat and millet in their cuisines. Enjoy delicious food served by lovely and welcoming people. The warm hospitality of the Sherpas in the Khumbu region, as well as Gurungs and Thakalis in the Annapurna region, adds inviting and pleasing charm. You would want to revisit Nepal once you have tasted their local cuisines and warm hospitality.

Land of Tigers and Rhinos [Abundance of wildlife and bird watching destination]

Rhino crossing river

The dense forests of Nepal are home to a variety of flora and fauna. In the south, rare and endangered animals like tigers and rhinos are found. Especially in the southwestern side of the country, there is an abundance of tigers and rhinos. These animals are found within protected areas like Chitwan National Park and Bardia National Park.

Along with tiger and rhino, elephant, water buffalo (Arna), Blackbuck deer, and many other species of animals reside in the dense jungles of these protected areas. These national parks are also the perfect place for bird watching activities. During wintertime, a wide range of migratory birds like a mallard, common teal, and grey-headed lapwings come from the north to these forested regions and spend their winter here. Thus, winter is the perfect time for bird enthusiasts to go and do bird watching.   

Religious diversity

Krishna Temple, Patan

Even though the majority of the population is Hindus, Nepal is a secular country where people respect each other’s festivals and celebrations. More than 80% of the population follows Hinduism, so the majority of people celebrate festivals like Dashain and Tihar heartily.

Similarly, 8% of the people follow Buddhism, and their main festival is Buddha Jayanti, where they celebrate the birth of Gautam Buddha. 4% of the Islamic population celebrate various festivals annually, like Ramadan. The ethnic and indigenous communities of Nepal follow Hinduism, Buddhism, or a mix of both.

Peace, Serenity and Stunning views

Sunset views of Mountain

The tranquility of the serene and stunning views is another unique quality of Nepal. In the mountainous region, the beautiful villages are surrounded by scenic views of mountain ranges, thus making it the perfect place to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. There are also cities and towns in the hills, where tourists can enjoy some quiet time. The best example is Bandipur, a small village in Tanahu, where the peaceful environment is accompanied by picturesque views of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges.

Around Kathmandu Valley as well, there are various viewpoints where the splendid mountain vistas are visible. Nagarkot and Dhulikhel are two famous places where tourists can get such views and enjoy the tranquility near the bustling capital.  

Beautiful Lakes

Gokyo lake

Most of the lakes of Nepal are freshwater and are formed by the melting of glaciers. Pokhara, the second biggest city in the country, is also known as the city of lakes. Along with the famous Phewa, there are other lakes like Begnas, Rupa, and Khaste lakes, which are all equally beautiful and breathtaking.

Besides these, there are several other scattered throughout the country. Rara Lake, the deepest and biggest freshwater lake of Nepal, lies in the far-western region of Nepal, is another famous scenic lake of the nation. It is said that the lake changes its color into different shades of blue every season.

Due to the ecological value of this lake, Rara National Park was established in 1976. Gosainkunda and Tilicho lakes are some of the holy lakes of Nepal that are visited by thousands of pilgrims every year.   

Rich in art and architecture

rich of Art, Nepal

Nepal has diverse art and architecture, signifying the different cultures. Handicrafts are one of the most popular representations of the Nepalese art. Various communities and regions have their unique trademark in craftsmanship. For example, Palpa is renowned for handmade Dhaka prints, which are then made into different things like purses, shawls, and coats. Similar to these handicrafts, the architecture is also distinctive.

Generally, Nepalese architecture exhibit three styles that are Stupa, Pagoda, and Shikhara style. The architecture of houses in Chitwan and Solukhumbu is entirely different. The ones in the south are made to withstand heat and are made with bamboo, while in the north, stone tiles and houses are pretty common.

Trace the birthplace of Lord Buddha at Lumbini

experience nepal tour
Mayadevi temple, Lumbini

Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was born in Lumbini, Nepal. Thousands of tourists flock to this pilgrimage site every year to pay homage to the birthplace of Buddha. In the premises of Maya Devi temple, there are twenty-five monasteries built by various countries like Thailand, Cambodia, German, China, and many more. Tourists can learn more about Buddhism by visiting these monasteries. Tourists can pay respects to the holy birthplace and also explore the museum as well as yoga and meditation centers.

Experience adventurous activities

Trekking in Mountain

The best adventurous activity to do in Nepal is trekking. The country is blessed with many great and majestic mountain ranges and rugged trekking routes, making it the best place for backpack traveling and trekking. Various trekking routes are graded from easy to strenuous, thus fitting the taste and level for every tourist.

Easy treks can mostly be done within a week, and the best example for it is Poonhill-Ghorepani trek in the Annapurna region. For strenuous trekking options, Everest Base Camp trekking would be the best. There are other treks like Tamang Heritage Trek, where tourists get to learn about the Tamang culture and traditions.

Along with trekking, the country is famous for various adventurous activities like rafting, bungee jumping, and rock climbing.

Naturally gifted country

Bhai tika

This small country, with the average north-south distance of 193 km comprises of flora and fauna ranging from tropical trees in the south to pine and fir trees grown in the alpine climate in the north.

The climatic variability and the rich biodiversity of Nepal is one of a kind. Nepal homes various rare and endangered animals like the snow leopard, birds like the spiny babbler, and plants like the Himalayan Yew (Yarsagumba). The country is also abundant with various kinds of freshwater resources ranging from ponds to rivers. Most of these water bodies originate from the melting snow of the Himalayas.

Pilgrimage and Pleasure

Bouddhanath Stupa

Alongside Lumbini, there are numerous temples and religious sites that are always crowded with pilgrims from around the world. The holy Hindu temple of Pashupatinath, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located at the heart of Kathmandu.

Similarly, Boudhanath Stupa, a revered site for Buddhist pilgrims, is also found in the capital city. Besides these religious landmarks, there are many other temples and stupas around the country that hold sacred values to the local people. Kalinchowk Bhagwati, Manakamana, and Muktinath are some of the temples that are frequented by pilgrims every year.