As the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths has been increasing at an alarming rate in Nepal on a daily basis, public health experts have reiterated the need for people to fully abide by all the health safety protocols to help prevent the spread of the virus. What is equally worrying is that the densely populated Kathmandu Valley has also lately reported a massive resurgence of the virus cases. Having realised the fact that the situation might get worsened in the near future, the three District Administration Offices (DAOs) of the Valley, after holding extensive consultations, have stepped up necessary measures to rein in the virus transmission. The local administrations have even planned to issue a prohibition order. This will come into effect from April 29. Although the move is going to cause inconvenience to people, this is expected to help break the transmission chain of the virus to a great extent. Everyone must extend necessary support and cooperation to the local administrations to enforce this move in an effective manner.
With hundreds of fresh COVID-19 cases and several fatalities, the Banke district in south-western Nepal has already turned out to be a coronavirus hotspot. According to media reports, hospital beds in the district are already full of COVID-19 patients. The local healthcare system is reeling from an acute shortage of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, ventilators as well as human resources. The situation of other Terai districts, too, seems to be aggravating faster due to an unrestricted movement of people across the border. However, the government has instructed the bodies concerned to take necessary initiative to operate the oxygen plants at full capacity, import life-saving medicines and expand the vaccination campaign.
India is now among the worst-hit nations in the world, with hundreds of thousands of fresh coronavirus cases and thousands of deaths reported daily. The long open border between Nepal and India makes it easier for people to cross the frontier. Even amid the outbreak of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, many foreigners, including Indians, have been entering Nepal via India either to avoid a virus fear or use the country as a transit. This tendency has put the country with a poor healthcare system at risk of being devastated by the public health crisis. In view of such a high risk, the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC) has urged the government to stop allowing foreign nationals to enter the country through the Nepal-India border points. However, the proposal will not be applicable for Nepalis wishing to return home.
The recommendation is also not going to obstruct the import and export of goods between the two neighbours. Despite this, the federal government is not in favour of imposing a nationwide lockdown for the time being considering its adverse impact on the economic activities and general life. While briefing about the meeting of the General Convention Organising Committee of the CPN-UML in the capital on Sunday, Minister for Foreign Affairs and spokesperson of the UML Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said that since lockdown was not the last solution to the problem, the government would not go for it immediately. People are required to follow all the preventive measures such as wearing a facemask, maintaining social distancing, washing hands with soap and water and using hand-sanitisers to keep the virus at bay.