One year after the imposition of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown in Nepal, yet another challenging situation now looming large. With India recording an unexpected daily rise in the number of COVID-19 cases lately, there are speculations that infections may increase at an alarming rate in Nepal, too. New variants of the virus are believed to have led to the rapid transmission of the disease in several Indian states. In view of a possible critical scenario, some Indian cities have gone into complete lockdown once again while others have remained on high alert against this public health crisis. Having a long porous border with India and poor healthcare system, Nepal is now at high risk of the virus disease being spread fast. A lot of Nepalis living and working in various parts of India have started returning home after the surge in the number of coronavirus infections there. This increases the chance of virus spread.
Several nations in Europe, too, have adopted tougher measures, including lockdowns, in the wake of an appearance of the third wave of the pandemic. Medical scientists have warned that the situation might get worse if health protocols issued by the World Health Orgaisation (WHO) and governments are not followed strictly. They have appealed to all to maintain social distancing, wear face masks, use hand-sanitiser and frequently wash hands with soap and water to help prevent the transmission of the virus disease. However, the ongoing vaccinations against the existing contagion have brought a lot of hope and optimism to the global population. But the vaccines alone are not adequate to contain a pandemic that has so far taken 2,757,683 lives worldwide. It has also left the global economy in tatters.
The level of public awareness of such infectious disease is very low in different communities in the country. Another issue is that even the well-aware and educated persons are not often found abiding by the health safety norms. A positive aspect, however, is that Nepal has not witnessed an increase in the rate of coronavirus infections, hospitalisations and deaths over the past few months. But the government has directed all the agencies concerned to monitor the situation seriously and step up measures accordingly to deal with the pandemic. The government has accorded top priority to tackling COVID-19 and saving the lives of people. It has also issued a circular to all the 77 district administration offices, telling them to make sure that functional quarantine and isolation facilities are in place.
Meanwhile, the Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur district administration offices have called on people to stay away from crowds and gatherings and confine celebrations of the impending festival of Holi within homes considering the potential surge in infection. Meanwhile, making public a report on 'Responding to COVID-19 and Provincial Profiles for COVID-19 Response' in the capital on Wednesday, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli emphasised the need for everyone to maintain a compulsory social distancing as the new variants of COVID-19 has begun gripping the world. Prepared by COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC), the report shows that among the total COVID-19 cases of 276,389 reported so far, some 1,128 are still active. The Prime Minister has said that the past initiatives, strategies and planning adopted under the CCMC's guidance had remained effective in controlling infections. The government now must control movements along the border with India to check the possible transmission of the contagion.