GENEVA – The United Nations is appealing for nearly $84 million for assistance to 750,000 people in Nepal suffering from a devastating COVID-19 surge.
In many ways, the outbreak in Nepal may be even worse than the destructive surge that has engulfed neighboring India.
The United Nations said Friday that Nepal had roughly the same number of daily cases per capita as India, but with a much weaker health system incapable of dealing with the crisis.
The World Health Organization said Nepal has had nearly 500,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 6,000 deaths. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the number of cases was escalating rapidly. It said cases had risen from 150 a day in early April to more than 8,000 cases a day since May 5.
OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke said all sectors of Nepalese society were reaching a breaking point.
“Millions of people are struggling with the direct health impact of the pandemic, but also hunger, malnutrition, devastating economic losses and other health needs that are being overlooked,” Laerke said. “The current outbreak is hitting the poorest and most marginalized people in Nepal the hardest.”
OCHA said the dramatic spike in cases had spurred an unprecedented need for medical supplies, including oxygen, medicine, ventilators, diagnostic kits and vaccine. It warned that the lives of many people sickened by the coronavirus would be lost because Nepal lacked the supplies needed to save them.
Laerke said a positive response to the U.N.’s $83.7 million Response Plan was crucial to avoiding that.
“Our plan calls for swift action and international solidarity that is desperately needed to save lives and prevent unnecessary suffering today and in the difficult weeks to come,” he said. “We have no time to lose.”
The U.N. Response Plan aims to address both the health and humanitarian consequences of COVID-19, helping hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Nepalis with health, food, education, nutrition, shelter, protection, water and sanitation assistance.