Monday, 8 March, 2021

Containing Virus Surge In Kathmandu Valley

The Kathmandu Valley is a demographic melting pot of Nepal where people from all over the country move in search of various opportunities. Such a concentration of population is especially a matter of concern during the coronavirus outbreak that is currently in upward trend. The spread of the deadly contagion can be explosive if the transmission at the community level accelerates. The matter must be taken seriously as some people without travel history have been found to be infected. In this regard, the role of the local level governments is paramount to keep virus transmission at bay. Considering this fact, the federal government has given authority to the local levels to take their own measures to control the spread of the deadly virus. The role played by the local levels in the fight against COVID-19 has been praised widely and it is during this situation of pandemic that the decentralised devolution of authority and economic resources have been admirably mobilised to address this serious public health issue.

The open border between Nepal and India has been a major factor behind the surge of virus infection in Nepal. The initial lockdown and border sealing had very positive effect in containing the contagion. But the situation started to worsen after the lockdown was lifted and economic activities resumed. This relaxation saw wider mobility of people, especially into the capital valley. Though the operation of long route buses were still banned, people used tracks and trails and even bribed the police to get into the valley. Movement of people to other urban areas also increased. But above all, the influx into the Valley tops them all to grab business and other opportunities. This happened at a cost. The Valley saw a drastic surge in the number of virus infections which sounded an alarm bell to the authorities. According to the figures made public by the Ministry of Health and Population, the Valley has been witnessing daily infections in the range between 100 and 200. The highest ever new infections in the Valley was recorded on August 22 which stood at 216.

Taking this alarming COVID-19 situation into account, the local level authorities in the Valley have decided to expand the range and speed of contact tracing and testing. The strategy aims to check the sharp rise of the virus at the community level. Considering the inter-district mobility of the people in the Valley, a meeting of the Valley Municipal Forum has decided to go for test and tracing expansion to break the transmission chain at the community level. The district administration offices of the three Valley districts have already issued prohibitory order, shutting down businesses and offices in view of the rising infections and deaths. Following suit, Sunday meeting of the Mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City Bidya Sundar Shakya, Mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City Chiri Babu Maharjan and Mayor of Madhyapur Thimi Municipality Madan Sundar Shrestha has taken apt decision to take joint action to contain the virus, utilising the suitable environment created by the prohibitory order. 

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