We are embracing Nepali New Year 2078 from today. While wishing for the best days in the new year in terms of health safety, happiness and prosperity, we must be mindful that challenges still remain in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting from the lockdown to the administration of the vaccines, we fared better compared to many other countries in the year 2077. But there is a long way to go to achieve a winning battle. The nation is witnessing the resurgence of the COVID-19 cases of late, which is being regarded as the second wave of the pandemic. The increase is occurring both the infections and fatalities. This needs to be taken as an alarm bell and dealt with seriously. On Monday only, the country recorded 559 new virus cases and 13 deaths that is the highest number after the onset of the second wave. The number was 303 on Sunday, 337 on Saturday, 288 on Friday, 332 on Thursday and 298 on Wednesday. Taking the persistent increase of the infection cases into consideration, the COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee and the Ministry of Health and Population has recommended the government to close the educational institutions for at least three weeks. The CCMC and the ministry made the recommendation after they concluded that the schools are at high risk due to the growing COVID-19 cases. Following the recommendation, the government was in a mood to close the schools and colleges and instruct them to resume online classes. However, the government on Monday did not take any decision regarding the closure of the educational institutions. The Monday meeting of the Cabinet instead decided to adopt public health protocols more strictly to stop the resurgence of the COVID-19 cases in the country.
The Cabinet decision came a few hours later after different stakeholders of education pressed the government at a meeting not to close the schools. During the meeting called by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to solicit views on the closure of educational institutions, school operators, local government representatives, members of guardian organisations and teachers were of the view that the closure of the schools should not be made the last resort in order to check the spread of coronavirus. It is true that the government should not depend only on the shutdown of schools but also extensively and strictly adopt all other measures to stop the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the school operators also should not prioritise their petty interests and benefits while offering their suggestions. In absence of precautionary steps, schools and colleges can be possible hotspot of coronavirus spread, according to public health experts.
The government was compelled to impose the unprecedented nationwide lockdown along with the closure of the educational institutions across the country soon after the country witnessed the outbreak of the virus in the third week of March, 2020. When the tally of daily infection cases went significantly down, the schools were reopened in the first week of January. Just a year after the introduction of the nationwide lockdown, the daily COVID-19 cases have been hiking dangerously day by day. This is not a time for complacency. The New Year 2078 calls for renewed resolution and reliable safety measures against the virus so that everyone is in good health which is a pre-requisite for the national goal of development and prosperity.