Nepal is now grappling with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with all available resources. The situation now is more alarming compared to its first wave owing to the virus mutation and its capacity to inflict more damage on the human body. This time it has infected even the larger segment of young population. So both infections and fatalities are increasing at an alarming rate. In order to fight the new surge of the pandemic, the government has ramped up health facilities and adopted new strategies accordingly. One such new strategy is to focus on the expansion of isolation centres and better arrangement of oxygen supply. Earlier, the government had built more quarantines to keep the returnees from abroad for 14 days. According to the health authorities, quarantines are needed for those who mainly return from abroad and they are sent to isolation centres if they test positive for COVID-19.
Now most Nepal returnees are from India where the second wave of pandemic has spread in devastating scale. Most of the Nepalis particularly from the western parts of Nepal go to India for seasonal work. This time the Nepali returnees have been mostly found infected with the deadly virus so they are kept in different wards of isolation centres. As per the rule, those returning from Tribhuvan International Airport are required to stay in hotel quarantine. If any of them tests positive for the virus disease, he/she will be despatched to the isolation centres. The increasing rate of infections has forced the government to build sufficient isolation centres so that the COVID-19 patients are treated in time. Recently, the government instructed to set up at least 1,000-bed isolation centres in each province and the Nepali Army has been tasked to build them.
While the federal government is making its best efforts to deal with the ongoing medical emergency, the local governments are also straining every nerve so that no infected persons succumb to the virus in want of basic health services. Many are involved in setting up their own isolation centres. According to a news report published in this daily, Harion Municipality in Sarlahi district has established its own 100-bed isolation centre that is instantly providing services to those COVID-19 patients whose oxygen level declines while staying in home isolation. It has also put ambulant personnel on standby to ferry the COVID-19 patients to the centres. The local units deserve praise for their efforts to tackle the pandemic but they have sought financial support from the province and centre so that they sustain the ongoing medical services to the patients until the pandemic is over.
Their concerns are genuine and need to be addressed without delay. The concerned provincial governments have shown positive response to their difficulties. The local representatives can play an effective role to cope with the pandemic as they are in touch with the people and can mobilise local civil society groups to effectively implement the prescribed health safety measures crucial to keep the virus at bay. Nepal’s constitution has stressed cooperative federalism in which all three tiers of government are required to work in close collaboration. It is imperative for them to coordinate and support with each other, thereby proving their mettle in getting rid of the scourge of the deadly virus disease.