Parsa's Birgunj, which had emerged as a hotspot during the first wave of coronavirus pandemic, has found itself in the grips of the contagion once again.

As India is grappling with the aggressive spread of the new and probably more dangerous COVID-19 variant, Parsa, a district that shares its open border with India, is also at high risk. The risk is all the more serious for Birgunj metropolis, being a major gateway to Nepal from India.

A total of 141 COVID-19 patients are undergoing treatment at Narayani Hospital of Birgunj currently. According to the hospital's COVID coordinator Dr Sarojroshan Das, 64 patients have so far recovered and returned home.

"While two patients opted to stay in home isolation, four others were referred elsewhere for advanced medical care," Dr Das said, adding 24 people have lost their lives due to the contagion till date.

As there were no signs of immediate let-up in infections and deaths, the district administration of Parsa has issued a week-long prohibitory order effective from yesterday.

As per the prohibitory order, shops selling essential food items and vegetables are allowed to operate until 10:00am in the morning.

According to DSP Bel Bahadur Pande of the District Police Office, security has been beefed up to ensure full implementation of the prohibitory order. "We're taking action against the people flouting the order," said District Traffic Police Office Parsa Chief Inspector Suman Karki.

Meanwhile, local have accused the provincial government of leaving the district in the lurch by not performing its duty during this difficult time. Birgunj metropolis Mayor Bijaya Kumar Sarawogi said the local government was doing everything under its remit to handle the crisis situation.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 1, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.