Monday, 30 March, 2020

Proactive Move Needed

It is a matter of great relief that the COVID-19 has not broken out in Nepal and no Nepali has succumbed to the virus. However, the government has taken all necessary preventive measures to stop its possible spread, thereby saving the life of people from the deadly virus. When the World Health Organisation declared that coronavirus became pandemic across the globe, many nations sprang to action to keep the virus at bay. Nepal, on its part, pulled out all the stops to contain the disease that has so far killed thousands of people. In its latest move, Nepal government has decided to further tighten the cross-border mobility of people to check the entry of COVID-19 into the country. Likewise, the government has enforced rigorous screening of people entering the country by land and air. In view of possible shortage of the PPE (personal protective equipment), testing kits, masks and sanitiser, it has decided to purchase them from outside the country through special arrangements. It is imperative for the government to resort to the fast track process to buy these materials.

Unlike the advanced nations, Nepal does not have modern health facilities but the government has started to immediately prepare the 120-beded Intensive Care Unit (ICU) wards in the Kathmandu Valley for the treatment of the potential COVID-19 patients. In a similar manner, the High Level Coordination Committee meeting the other day decided to set up 1,000-bed isolation wards at seven different hospitals in the Valley. Such isolation wards will also be established in the seven provinces. This decision comes in the wake of the remark of the Minister for Health and Population who had advised the people coming from abroad to go for self-quarantine on their own. His off the cuff comment has sparked criticisms in the social media. With the decision to set up over 1,000 isolation wards, the nation is set to deal with the risk of virus breakout in a smooth manner.

Though the virus has not raised its tentacles here, a sense of panic has already gripped the denizens, triggering the shortage of face masks, sanitiser and essential consumer items such as cooking gas. Some are trying to take the unfair advantage from this situation. Though unfounded, the fearsome psyche is not only visible among the commoners, this sort of psychology has also hit the medical workers, who may not be willing to serve the virus-hit patients if it breaks out. To address this problem, the government has announced risk allowance and health insurance for the health workers and the employees to be deployed to prevent the contagion. These incentives will be effective to mobilise the health workers and staff to control the pandemic.

Maintaining law and order is also important when there is an alarm and trepidation among the populace. On this front, the authorities have acted swiftly by nabbing those involved in smuggling and illegally hoarding the surgical masks. According to the news report carried out by this daily, the police have confiscated 1.1 million masks in three days. This sort of action reposes confidence in the people who are not finding the medical masks in the drug stores. All the stakeholders need to work in collaboration to avert the possible virus attack. The media, specially the social one should be careful and refrain from disseminating false information, contents and images.

How do you feel after reading this news?