An explosion of coronavirus cases and a government caught unprepared despite warnings threaten to overwhelm the country's health system.

Nepal is witnessing skyrocketing coronavirus cases in a scenario that appears to be chillingly familiar to its neighbour India which is currently at the centre of a Covid-19 storm.

The country's more than 1770 km long, open and porous border with India has likely exacerbated the situation in the landlocked state, which also borders China.

"It's almost impossible to halt and regulate the movement of people despite having border checkpoints. This has made Nepal vulnerable to the Indian Covid variant virus as India's Modi failed to handle the Covid situation and was rather busy in petty politics and encouraged mass religious gatherings," says Arun Budhathoki, a local journalist in the country.

The increasing lockdown restrictions have left thousands, including those like Budhathoki, finding it difficult to deal with the economic fallout and the prevailing fear in the country about how bad the virus could get.

Just in the past seven days, the country has seen a more than 100 percent increase in the number of cases.

The situation wasn't always this desperate. In early April, the country had around 100 cases per day, now, the cases are fast approaching 10,000 cases per day.

The country's prime minister KP Sharma Oli, like his Indian counterpart, has been severely criticised for mishandling the virus, putting politics ahead of healthcare.

"Prime Minister Oli was busy fighting to salvage his position, and the government wasn't anticipating a deadlier second wave and had no proper preparation to tackle it," says Budhathoki speaking to TRT World.

While country's around the world restricted or banned flights to and from India, Nepal's government failed to implement any restrictions.

"It is mind-boggling to fathom the government's deplorable decision to allow flights from India," says Budhathoki adding that "our health infrastructure is fragile, and we do not know when additional vaccines will arrive."

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), last weekend, 44 percent of the country’s Covid-19 tests came back positive going on to warn that the country is on the brink of a widespread crisis.

Nepal Red Cross Chairperson, Dr Netra Prasad Timsina, in a statement, said, "What is happening in India right now is a horrifying preview of Nepal's future if we cannot contain this latest COVID surge that is claiming more lives by the minute."

The country's hospitals are feeling the strain with hospitals reflecting scenes in India. Intensive care units in Nepal are overflowing with people with some of the worst numbers being reported in towns near the Indian border.

India's other populous neighbours, Pakistan and Bangladesh are also registering record death rates as there are signs that the virus from India may be leaping across borders.

Nepal has also been running low on vaccines and running a campaign that has seen thousands queuing up to get AstraZeneca jabs, something that some have blamed for further spreading the virus.

Only one percent of Nepalis have been fully vaccinated with both shots  compared to India's two percent. As of May 6 almost ten percent of Indian’s have received one shot of the vaccine compared to just over seven percent of Nepalis.

The country of about 28 million people has only 0.7 doctors per 100,000 people, a lower rate than even India at 0.8 doctors per 100,000 people.

The country's Prime Minister Oli has taken to the international community seeking assistance to get more vaccines to manage the increasingly desperate situation.

For many in Nepal, that could be their last best hope.

"We can only hope that more countries will step up assistance to Nepal as they have done with India," says Budhathoki.

Source: TRT World