Looking at the staggering traffic jams and crowds of people at major thoroughfares and marketplaces of the Kathmandu Valley, it seems as if fears for the COVID-19 pandemic is now gone. In the evening, New Road, Ratna Park, Jamal, Asan, New Baneshwor, Tripureshwor, Maitighar and numerous other business areas are overcrowded with people. Many of them are not seen so much concerned about their health safety. But the reality is that the capital valley has already turned into a coronavirus hotspot, with hundreds of new infections and several deaths being reported daily. Another matter of great concern is that many groups have been staging protests and demonstrations in the city by putting up various demands. As these protesters have hardly been found following any health safety norms, their activities may trigger a widespread transmission of the pandemic. Bearing this in mind, the District Administration Office (DAO), Kathmandu, has called upon the public to not get engaged with any crowding activities in the name of staging protests, gatherings, rallies and demonstrations in the challenging time of COVID-19.
In recent times, some groups, including pro-Royalist ones, have been staging protests in Kathmandu. Such activities might exacerbate the pandemic situation in the densely populated Kathmandu Valley. The DAO has warned that it would take stern legal action against any groups or individuals taking part in rallies or gatherings during the time of the COVID-19 contagion. The local administration must contain those crowding the streets or other public places with political or other demands under the Local Administration Act and the Infectious Diseases Act. It has urged citizens to strictly abide by all the health safety protocols issued by the government so as to bring the pandemic under control.
The DAO further said that adhering to the safety protocols was very important to reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus infections. One and all must join hands with the government to deal with the coronavirus pandemic that has already infected more than 233,000 and taken lives of over 1,500 people in the country. The federal, state and local governments have been struggling hard to contain the coronavirus disease. They have stepped up both preventive as well as control measures to deal with this deadly virus disease. Also, a Rapid Antigen Testing for COVID-19 has been launched in the Kathmandu Valley recently so as to fast detect the status of infection in the community. This type of test is faster than other diagnoses as results come out within 20-25 minutes.
According to the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) under the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), among the 750 antigen tests conducted on Monday, 41 cases came out positive. The tests were conducted among those who came in contact with the COVID-19 infected. Meanwhile, the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) has decided to reopen the Pashupatinath Temple for devotees from December 16. The famous Hindu shrine has remained shut for nine months. This is the first time that the temple has remained closed for such a long time. However, while reopening the temple, the authorities must ensure that all the safety measures are followed rigorously. Otherwise, this might prove to be yet another reason to increase the risk of COVID-19 infections.