Monday, 30 March, 2020

Prevent Virus Transmission

With many nations across the world stepping up rigorous measures to contain the novel coronavirus, Nepal has followed suit to prevent the possible spread of the pandemic. In line with the Federal Government's announcement, a partial lockdown has come into effect from Sunday. Under this measure, all the international flights have been suspended until April 3. The government has also put a ban on operation of passenger bus services on long routes.  Also known as COVID-19, the deadly killer virus disease has so far claimed over 13,000 lives in Italy, China, Iran, the United States of America, the United Kingdom (UK) and scores of other nations.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as many as 188 countries and territories around the world have reported a total of 308,547 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Sunday. As the virus been spreading rapidly, the pandemic-hit nations have already declared a state of emergency to cope with the pandemic. The Government of Nepal has decided to mobilise security forces in order to manage people in isolation, quarantine and hospitals for containing the possible spread of the COVID-19.

A meeting of the High Level Committee on Prevention and Control of COVID-19, which was held Saturday, took the decision regarding this. According to a news report published in this daily the other day, the meeting decided to mobilise security forces in coordination with Ministry of Health and Population and the Ministry of Home Affairs to maintain discipline of the quarantined people in various hospitals and quarantine centres. The committee may have taken this step as some persons had fled the isolation wards, posing risk of transmission of the virus to others. Minister for Finance Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada, who is also the spokesperson of the government, made public the government's plan to manage quarantines in coordination with the State and local governments as well. Because the government does not have adequate halls and other infrastructure to be used as quarantines, the government has come up with a decision to accept the shelters offered voluntarily by individuals, hospitals, schools and hotels for developing temporary quarantine centres. The high level committee's meeting has already formed six different committees to effectively implement the government's decision on COVID-19. The high level committee led by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Ishwor Pokharel monitors the functions of all the committees.

Although the virus disease, which is believed to have first spread in Wuhan of China in December last year, has now been under control in the northern neighbour, some 300 cases have been reported in some parts of India. It is worth mentioning here that no coronavirus cases have been detected in Nepal until now. But the country is also not a safe from it either. Since Nepal and India share open porous border, there is free movement of people across the border. This type of movement may lead to the transmission of virus. It is high time that the two friendly neighbours stepped up efforts to check the cross-border movement of people at least for the time being to control the possible spread of the lethal virus. If this measure is taken, Nepalis living in border towns may become less panicky.     

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