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KATHMANDU: The COVID-19 pandemic has now spread to all of the 77 districts in Nepal as cases in the Himalayan country has surpassed 12,000, a senior Ministry of Health and Population official said.

“After nine new cases were identified in Rasuwa, the last unaffected district, all the districts of the country have now been affected by the COVID-19,” Jageshwor Gautam, spokesperson at the Ministry said at a regular press briefing on Saturday.

On Saturday, the government reported 554 new cases, taking the total to 12,309, while the death toll stands at 27, reports Xinhua news agency. Nepal has been witnessing a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases since May. After the government relaxed the lockdown on June 10, allowing most of the economic activities to resume, the cases nearly tripled. Until June 10, Nepal had only reported 4,364 cases.

After the COVID-19 cases surpassed 10,000, the pandemic in Nepal has entered the worst case scenario as defined by the government.

During such a scenario, the government could declare a health disaster, pull all the confirmed mild cases of COVID-19 into home isolation and call for enhanced international humanitarian support.

The Ministry has submitted a proposal to the cabinet to declare a health disaster on which the decision has not been taken yet. “We are preparing infrastructure and test kits considering the possible infections for 30,000,” Sameer Kumar Adhikari, a joint spokesperson at the Ministry, told Xinhua.

However, Nepali officials said that the country has not yet seen large-scale community transmission of COVID-19 as cases are largely confined among people who came back from abroad and most of them have been housed in quarantine centres.

Basudev Pandey, director at Epidemiology and Disease Control Division told at a press meet early this week that 95 percent of infections have taken place among the Nepalis who returned home from abroad, particularly from India.