As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to take tolls of infections and deaths all over the world, the Government of Nepal has taken drastic decisions to contain its spread in the country. The decision taken by the government on Wednesday mainly focusses on restricting mass mobility and mass gathering because they are the common channels of human contacts and virus infection. Despite the absence of coronavirus infection in the country so far, the government is serious about possible risks of outbreak. In this regard, the government on Wednesday postponed the Secondary School Exam (SEE) scheduled to begin throughout the country on Thursday. The government also decided to close all educational institutions, including primary schools, secondary schools and colleges. Pre-schools and child development centres will also be closed. Closure of educational institutions will continue till April 11.
In order to limit mass gathering and human physical contacts, the government has decided to close all movie theatres, stadiums, playgrounds, gyms and health clubs. Similarly, public buildings and facilities like museums and swimming pools will be shut down. The government has also announced the closure of cultural centres, dance bars, clubs and other entertainment facilities. These health, entertainment and historical facilities will remain closed till April 30. The government seems to be serious to put these decisions to effect which is evident from the fact that the Ministries of Home Affair, Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Communication and Information Technology and the local government authorities have been entrusted to monitor the implementation of the decision. Nepal is lucky not to be affected by the novel coronavirus till date but it should not be the reason for us to remain complacent and careless. With the decision, the government has left no stone unturned to take preventive measures.
The government has imposed a travel ban on the visitors coming from European countries, West Asia, Gulf countries, Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. On arrival visas have already been restricted. Travelling to Nepal of those who had a transit stop in the above mentioned countries is also prohibited. The travel ban will come into effect from the midnight of March 20 and Nepali diplomatic missions abroad are being notified about this decision. The government will extend the term of visa for those who get stuck in Nepal due to this decision. Public transport vehicles have been prohibited to carry passengers beyond their seating capacity. Those vehicles are required to be disinfected on a daily basis. Restaurants, hotels and shopping malls must disinfect elevators, railings, tables, chairs and railings and avail hand sanitiser to the visitors.
A high level government committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Ishwar Pokharel is already in place to take measures on prevention and control of the new deadly virus known as COVID-19. The committee took 14-point decision to curb the possible outbreak of the virus which also prohibits the assembly of more than 25 people at one place. This means that crowded gatherings at party venues, temples, shrines, stupas, mosques and churches have been restricted. Respecting these decisions may cause some inconvenience but that is insignificant compared to the public health threats posed by COVID-19. It is time to make sure that a minor mistake or shortcoming does not lead to disastrous consequences. This is not a matter for kidding and every citizen should cooperate to implement it.