In an unprecedented move to prevent the spread of covid-19 across the country, Nepal has enforced complete lockdown for a week, effective from Tuesday morning. This is a difficult moment for Nepalis who have already endured the sufferings of earthquake and blockade in 2015. The nation has again demanded sacrifice, unity and perseverance from its citizens so as to keep intact its resilience and safety. The latest step comes in the wake of a report that a 19-year-old Nepali girl, who came from France via a Qatar Airways flight on March 17, was tested positive for covid-19. She is now receiving treatment at a hospital in Kathmandu. As the novel coronavirus disease has the propensity of spreading fast from one human to another, this case sets alarm bells ringing. Although her health condition is normal, she might have infected scores of passengers she travelled with. The number of persons these passengers had contacted with are likely to multiply the virus infection. It has become urgent to put all these individuals in quarantine at the earliest but it might be difficult to trace all of them. So the effective nation-wide lockdown is the only way at the moment to nip the virus in the bud.
The first and foremost measure to contain the virus, according to the WHO, is to maintain rigorous physical- and social-distancing. This requires that the people stay at home and avoid unnecessary contact with others. Likewise, testing, contact-tracing, isolating, quarantining and caring for very confirmed cases is a must to flatten the virus curve. The deadly contagion has now reached over 195 countries and territories, killing 16,558 people and infecting 381,781 to date. Over 101,000 persons have so far recovered from the infection. But, for some countries, it is a matter of life and death. They are battling with all available measures and resources to kick out the virus. Now Nepal has joined arduous fighting to stamp out the virus by adopting comprehensive course of action.
The government has issued an eight-point order that has prohibited all public movement outside of the home, except to get medical services or buy essential items. In line with Infectious Disease Control Act, 2020, it has halted all public and private vehicles, except for those with prior permission, those belonging to security forces and those for health workers. Those flouting the rules are subject to punishment as per the Act. There is a rational ground behind the adoption of the restrictive measures which primarily seek to prevent the possible breakout of the pandemic. We lack the adequate medical facilities and equipment. In case the virus breaks out, our health centres will be overwhelmed and eventually creak under the strain. Therefore, our best-case scenario is to prevent the covid-19 at all costs. It is the responsibility of the government to maintain law and order as well as ensure the good health of the citizens. At the same time, the citizens have the equal duty towards the state. They should effectively observe the lockdown and support the government’s steps aimed at ensuring the larger interest of the nation and the people.