At a time when the administration has relaxed lockdown restrictions to continue with human and economic activities for some days, a public health expert has warned of increasing risk of the deadly contagion in the absence of strict implementation of safety protocols.

"The relaxation of prohibitory order doesn't mean that the risk of COVID-19 has fizzled out," said Public health expert Dr Rabindra Pande.

"The coronavirus infection rate is still at 25 to 30 per cent. Neither has the government expedited mass testing for the virus, nor has the public shown interest in it," he reminded, adding, "There is the possibility of a third wave of Delta variant of the coronavirus."

Dr Pande, however, said there was no possibility of a new variant of coronavirus at present. He observed that there could be more cases of infection outside Kathmandu valley as such places lacked testing capacity.

Moreover, people have ditched the proper use of masks.

The country is waiting for adequate import of vaccine against COVID-19. So far, 2.6 million people have been vaccinated with the first dose, while less than a million got the second dose of anti-COVID vaccines.

Dr Pande argued that the government had to vaccinate more and more people. "In the upcoming wave of coronavirus, those left out from the vaccination drive will face more threat," he said.

He wondered why people were not aware about the disease despite such a dreadful impact. "We need to change our thinking," Pande said.

"The Delta variant has spread in nearly 100 countries, which have continued lockdowns to contain it.

Research on the possibility of Delta Plus is also on. So, both weak or stronger variants may emerge," Dr Pande added.

According to Pande, the time has come for Nepal to review seriously lapses in the measures to contain the deadly virus in both the first and second waves. He expressed worry over large crowds of people at the transport, land revenue and tax offices.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 9 2021, of The Himalayan Times.