On Friday, a record 448 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Nepal. The number was the highest daily cases of infection since it began to hit the country in March this year. The virus’s surge is occurring as the government announced to ease the lockdown effective from June 15. However, there has been a tendency to disregard the government’s decision before it is put to action. The retailers defied the government’s instructions and started to open their business. They took to the streets and clashed with the security personnel in different places, including New Road, the heart of the capital city. Now doubt, the lockdown has turned the normal life upside down but the scientific fact is that COVID-19 spreads fast when the people gather and talk in groups ignoring the social distancing guidelines. The recent spike in the virus cases across the world is attributed to the increased mobility of the people. The lockdown has been relaxed to ease the life, not to proliferate the virus. The experiences of the US, Brazil and India show that the COVID-19 cases soared as their governments relaxed lockdowns and the people defied restriction measures adopted to flatten the curve.
With the relaxation of the lockdown, the people need to take extra caution to avoid the contagion. However, they are now facing a new risk of infection, with protest rallies being organised in different parts of the country. Youths have been holding rallies, accusing the government of being involved in corruption and failing to effectively handle the coronavirus crisis. In democracy, everyone has the right to protest the government in public places and exercise their freedom as stipulated by the constitution. While chanting the slogans against the government, protesters must not forget that they are also increasing the risk of transmission of the virus to the local community. Conducting the mass rallies in the streets amount to the violation of the lockdown and other strict measures enforced to save the life of people. Protecting the life of people should be the first priority of all. Other activities carried out in whatever name do not bear meaning if they pose a serious threat to human life.
The other day Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Ishwar Pokhrel expressed his concerns about the growing risk of virus’s spread owing to the rallies and mass meetings. He urged the general public to be aware of the possible transmission of the pandemic when they participate in the rallies. Stating that the government has made the people’s life somehow easier by allowing them to come out of their houses, he said that in such a condition, the anti-government protests would not be suitable and reliable. The DPM also expressed commitment to addressing the people's demand for more PCR tests and making further effective plans and programmes to control and prevent the COVID-19. It is true that the rising number of people coming from abroad overwhelmed the capacity of quarantines across the country. The government is putting its best foot forward to rein in the COVID-19 with its limited means and resources. In a time of grave crisis, the people must not always press the government to fulfil their rights but they should also discharge their duty by enabling it to restore normalcy and order in the country.