The number of COVID-19 infections and deaths seems to have been showing a downturn trend gradually even in the virus hotpots like the Kathmandu Valley and Nepalgunj, thanks to strict preventive measures, including the partial prohibitory orders. The local administration has extended the prohibition order in the capital valley for the next 10 days since June 4. The decision in this connection was taken by a joint meeting of the Chief District Officers of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts on Wednesday. The meeting took this move after calculating that the COVID-19 cases in the valley have yet to fall to a satisfactory level. However, it now has eased the restriction, allowing grocery shops and departmental stores to open until 9 a.m. Vehicles carrying construction materials have also been permitted to operate between 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Automobile workshops will now remain open from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. Public construction works have also been allowed to continue, but the workers will have to follow certain protocols. However, the local administration had tightened the restriction between May 28 and June 3. After an alarming increase in the number of daily COVID-19 cases, the restriction has been enforced in the valley since April 29.
Considering the adverse effects of the ongoing restrictions on the social and economic activities, the government has adopted the policy of reopening businesses and other activities once the virus pandemic subsides. The situation now appears to be improving gradually, with hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley and other virus-hit cities reporting a declining number of COVID-19 patients. Until a few days ago, it was quite difficult even for hospitals located in the country's major urban centres to manage oxygen and ICU beds due to sudden rise in the number of patients suffering from the lethal virus disease. Several hospitals, including Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH), have installed their own oxygen plants while others have added extra beds to take care of the COVID-19 patients. Over the past couple of days, Nepal has received more medical supplies from different friendly nations and donors. This has facilitated the health institutions to handle the pandemic cases in a more efficient manner.
However, more children and youths in Nepal have been at high risk of being infected with this virus disease following the outbreak of the second wave of the pandemic. Health experts have warned that the problem could aggravate further if new variants of the virus emerge. According to doctors, only about 2-3 per cent of children got infected with COVID-19 during its first wave. But after the eruption of the existing second wave, the rate of infection among children has exceeded by 10 per cent. This is really an alarming scenario. So, public health specialists have advised all to abide by all health safety norms related to this global public health crisis rigorously and take precautions to keep children safe. Another risk factor is that the children infected with COVID-19 are more likely to develop post-COVID symptoms like multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS). Bearing this in mind, all the provinces now need to establish COVID dedicated hospitals, especially for children, to deal with possible emergence of new, riskier variants.