We are now seeing the repeat of the nasty events that rocked the nation last year. With its new variant, the COVID-19 has again swept across the country, exposing our complacency and the weak preparations to fight its second wave. The coronavirus cases are rising at an alarming rate. So is the number of deaths of infected persons. In order to break the virus chain, a two-week long tough prohibitory order is being enforced in the Kathmandu Valley from Thursday. This is the right move to slow down and eventually control the spreading of the virus. As the restrictive measures bring public transport, education, business and other sectors to a grinding halt, this will have adverse impact on the national economy which was set to recover with the lifting of the nationwide lockdown last year.
The year 2020 remained very challenging because the pandemic hit tourism, transportation, and wholesale and retail business and production. According to a news report published in this daily on Wednesday, Nepal Rastra Bank Governor Maha Prasad Adhikari has warned that economic situation could worsen this year too owing to the second wave of pandemic. Last year around 9 per cent industries were shut down in the wake of the extended lockdown. The vaccination drive has rekindled the hope that the business and economy would return to its normal course. The vaccine boosts the immune system of its takers, who will easily withstand the virus attack. But the inoculation drive has not covered the entire population.
In order to resuscitate the crisis-ridden economy, the central bank revised its monetary policy to refinance small and cottage industries, reduce interest rates for the mega industries, introduce special loans to the export industry and unveil revival packages to the production and other industries. The application of the macroeconomic instruments such as relaxed interest rates on loans and extended payment duration for the business community was expected to revitalise the sector. But the new surge of the virus has upset these measures aimed to offset the detrimental effects of the pandemic.
However, here is also good news with regard to the economy amidst the medical emergency. Another report of the daily says that Nepal has exported tea worth Rs. 3.06 billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal year. In the last fiscal year, tea worth 2.78 billion rupees was exported because restrictions enforced to rein in the virus had impeded the export trade. The growth in the export of tea appears like a silver lining in the dark cloud. It is a daunting task to maintain this momentum next year as the pandemic-induced prohibitory steps are likely to hurt the tea trade. Still, Nepali tea has brought positive news for the people struggling to avoid the coronavirus.
A research has found that Nepali tea contains enzyme called Diflavin that helps reduce the severity of COVID-19 infection. The Tea Research Association conducted the study, which was published in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, India, in March last year. The enzyme enhances the immunity against the virus. This medicinal property found in Nepali tea has increased its demand in the international market. The double benefit of Nepali tea must have encouraged both the farmers and traders. The government needs to facilitate them for boosting their production and export so as to support the economy in the time of unprecedented economic downturn.