Nepal is now passing through a critical moment in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the deadly virus, it has increased at an alarming rate. Now the number of coronavirus cases has crossed 111,802 which is higher than that of Wuhan city of China where it first appeared and quickly turned into a global pandemic. The active cases of virus have surged to 33,880, forcing the government to take some drastic decisions one after another to rein in the virus spike. The satisfying thing is that recovery rate is quite high while the number of fatalities is also considerably low compared to the skyrocketing caseload of virus. But the number of deaths may swell if the current rate of virus spread continues in the days to come. The approaching Dashain festival and winter season can worsen the situation if the safety rules are not strictly abided by.
The government has adopted all sorts of measures to flatten the virus curve. It first imposed lockdown on March 24 when the second virus case was confirmed. Following the relaxation of first round of lockdown, it again decided to enforce prohibitory steps to slow down the virus spread. As it has a challenge to maintain a balance between the disease containment measures and economic revival, the government let the businesses operate with strict health precautions. With the people returning to new normal, the virus is also raging much to their dismay and bewilderment.
As the hospitals have been overwhelmed by the rising number of the COVID-19 patients, the government has decided to convert all the government hospitals of the Kathmandu Valley into COVID-19 designated hospitals so that the serious patients are not deprived of isolation centres, ICU beds, ventilators and oxygen. The hospitals like Kanti Children Hospital, Gangalal National Heart Centre, Civil Hospital and Manmohan Memorial Medical College should now solely treat the COVID-19 patients. They are directed to conduct surgery only in the case of emergency, according to the news report of this daily. This decision is taken to respond to unpredictable medical emergency in the Kathmandu Valley but the government should also pay attention to other patients who need regular visits to hospitals for the treatment of the ailments such as cancer, chronic heart disease and liver and kidney problems. The condition of cancer and kidney patients becomes worse if they fail to receive chemotherapy and dialysis regularly.
There has been growing calls for imposing lockdowns in the Valley to control the pandemic but the government spokesman and Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said that there was no plan to impose another round of lockdown in the Kathmandu Valley. Instead, it has urged for generating greater awareness of the danger of virus and alertness against it. Gyawali said that it was now up to the public to keep the virus at bay. “If the members of public ignore the repeated calls to follow precautions, the government might impose lockdown at any time,” he warned. It is natural for the government to look to the citizens in this time of unprecedented crisis. At the same time, it is the duty of people to practise prescribed health guidelines, self-restraint and social distancing and discipline against the pandemic.