In the last months of 2019, the world and the humankind encountered a new killer virus COVID-19. This virus later spread rapidly across the globe. As a result, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a worldwide pandemic. When Nepal felt a serious threat from the virus, the government started adopting strict health protocols in the first quarter of 2020. On March 24 of the same year, the government clamped a nationwide lockdown with harsh measures to protect the citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the caution and safety measures adopted by the government and the general public, the virus could not spiral out of control and cause widespread losses as feared by some agencies. One year has passed since the country announced a lockdown and now there are no restrictions on activities though safety rules are being adopted.
For the past few months, the infection of the coronavirus was dropping remarkably in the country. Therefore, the people were feeling a sense of relief. But the recent rise of the virus cases in some states of neighbouring India has caused an alarm in Nepal because the two neighbours share an open border. Coincidently, Nepal has also seen some rise in the number of virus infections of late. So, a question has arisen whether the country is going to be hit by the second wave of the COVID-19. Feeling the heat, the government has issued a fresh alert to the people urging them again to follow stringent safety measures. Issuing a press statement on Sunday, the Ministry of Health and Population appealed the common people to strictly adopt the government-prescribed public health protocols.
The Ministry has particularly urged the people not to convene meetings or take part in any gatherings, assemblies, rallies and seminars. Similarly, public health experts have cautioned the public towards the possible resurgence of the virus. They suspect that the new variants of the virus could enter the country as they have been spreading in other countries. If that is the case, we may face second wave of pandemic. The mutated virus variant said to be notorious for fast spread though it has not been proved that it is more lethal. In this scenario, we should put in place the measures that can prevent possible spread once again. So the government and the public have to take the issue seriously and abide by the preventive steps honestly. The citizens should strictly abide by the health safety norms such as wearing face masks, washing hands several times a day with soap and water, using hand-sanitisers and most importantly, maintain social distancing.
All three-tier governments should work in coordination to check the virus from spreading further. The government should intensify public awareness campaigns against the virus while intensifying surveillances in all the check points along the Nepal-India border. Capacity of health facilities needs to be boosted and PCR tests should be expanded. The good news is that the Health Ministry has instructed all 77 district authorities to stay on high alert, and conduct antigen tests on those returning from India. For the purpose, the health desks in all 14 border points and the Tribhuvan International Airport have been reactivated. On the one hand the government should continue vaccinating its people and on the other, it should make sure all the safety measures are applied.