Nepal’s second wave of Covid infections is subsiding – but the country needs more vaccines to deal with the pandemic, Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli told CNBC.

“The wave is under control and is going back,” he told Street Signs Asia on Monday. He said there had been a 75% decrease in cases.

Nepal reported 2,049 infections on Monday, up from a record of more than 9,000 new cases per day in mid-May.

“It was like a crisis, a very serious crisis … when the wave started,” Oli said, noting that infections and deaths increased and Nepal faced a shortage of hospital beds, medical equipment and facilities. He described the rise as “highly contagious and deadly”.

I think we can tentatively complete the vaccination process within this year.

Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli

Prime Minister, Nepal

Nepalese billionaire Binod Chaudhary told CNBC in May that the country had underestimated the intensity of the second wave of coronavirus.

“Little by little, we have taken very serious measures and taken serious steps to contain and control the pandemic,” said the Prime Minister.

Nepal has also received generous support from vaccine manufacturers, philanthropic organizations and other governments, he added.

Vaccination campaign

Oli said Nepal hopes to vaccinate its entire population by the end of 2021 if there are enough vaccines.

“Our population is only 30 million and of them we (some people) have already vaccinated,” he said.

Just over 8% of people in the country have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to Our World in Data. Nepal has received vaccines donated by India, China and Covax, a global alliance dedicated to delivering vaccines to poorer countries.

The prime minister said Nepal is also trying to secure millions of cans from countries like the US, UK and China.

“We speak very seriously with China and hope that we can get more vaccines,” said Oli. “Within this year, I think we can tentatively complete the vaccination process.”