Although vaccinations against COVID-19 have been going on in many countries around the world, the humankind is still not free from the risk of this pandemic. Several Indian states like Maharastra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Gujrat have lately reported an alarming rise in the number of coronavirus cases. Similar is the situation in numerous European nations such as Germany, Italy and Poland. To cope with this new challenge, those countries have taken drastic measures, including lockdowns and other restrictions, in the areas that are now at high risk. Nepal and India are very close geographically as well as culturally. As the two neighbours share open yet unregulated long frontier, there has been an unhindered mobility of people across the border. Hundreds of thousands of Nepalis are staying in various parts of India for work and education. The number of Indians living in Nepal is also not so insignificant.
With the recent surge in COVID-19 infections in different Indian cities, many Nepalis are reported to have begun returning home to be safe from the killer virus disease. When the virus disease was at its peak in India last year, a lot of Nepali migrant workers were forced to come back home. And they became a carrier of the virus disease. The same situation might emerge this time around, too. So, it is necessary for one and all to take precautions. Meanwhile, considering the possible appearance of the new wave of this contagion, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has called on everyone to adopt the much-needed safety measures to help prevent the threat. The ministry has asked them to strictly abide by all health safety norms issued by it during the outbreak of the contagion last year. People should wear a face mask, wash hands with soap and water, use hand-sanitisers and maintain social distancing. The ministry has also urged people not to organise any public gatherings, rallies, meetings, assemblies and seminars to stop further transmission of the virus disease.
Ever since Nepal started witnessing a fall in the number of coronavirus infections and deaths some months ago, many people have not been found following health protocols rigorously. But there is no denying the fact that the pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the country's economy. As of Sunday, the virus disease has infected 275,906 people, causing some 3,016 deaths. When the country reported more daily COVID-19 cases few months ago, hospital beds were almost full. With poor healthcare system, it was not easy for those suffering from coronavirus as well as other health complications to find a bed with an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and ventilator support.
The MoHP has also decided to activate the health desks installed at all the 14 Nepal-India border points and the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). Dispatching a circular to all the 77 district administration offices through the Ministry of Home Affairs, the MoHP has asked them to remain at high alert against the potential transmission of the disease. It has also directed the concerned authorities to carry out antigen tests of those returning from India on the basis of symptoms and possible risks. The local governments need to manage institutional and home quarantine for such persons. Learning from the past lapses, they must ensure that there is better coordination and collaboration among the relevant agencies to deal with the crisis.