Friday, 30 October, 2020
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EDITORIAL

Tread With Caution



Despite the policy decision of the government that a lockdown may be re-imposed if the daily new cases of the virus exceed 25,000, the nation is currently reverting back to daily businesses after a long hiatus. Domestic flights have resumed with remarkable occupation in the very start. International flights have also been operating flights, though the numbers are far below compared to the normal times. Long route bus services have been brought into operation in the gap of around six months. News reports are pouring in related to decisions of reopening schools in different parts of the country. Trade, business and tourism activities are picking up pace as per the policy of opening up considering the far-reaching effects of slump in the national economy. There came a situation where the health threats of the virus and economic impacts of the business inactivity had to be weighed and compared. It was felt that bringing business to a grinding halt was going to invite equally disastrous consequences. If people were not dying of disease, they were sure to die of hunger cessation of economic activities stopped. This was the rationale behind the government decision to open up economic activities with caution.
However, this is not a situation where business as usual can be operated without giving a serious thought to the threats posed by the virus pandemic. We cannot go about daily business as if threat of virus continues. The trend of surging virus cases must be watched with all seriousness and the authorities must make sure that safety rules are being followed. Business activities may be run but not in a careless manner that jeopardises public health. Trade, business, industry and other activities are permissible only to the extent that reliable safety measures are put in place. COVID-19 safety measures are not meant for formality and show only. The implementation of the safety protocols must result in the declining spread of the virus. In this regard, objective advice of the medical experts rather than the whimsical decisions should get the priority. Any mechanism and bodies related to coronavirus safety decisions must have substantial involvement of top medical experts. Political decisions regarding COVID-19 safety should be based on expert inputs and the medical experts should make sure their suggestions bring tangible results in the battle against the pandemic.
Resumption of business activities has made people hopeful over the prospects of economic recovery but widespread concerns are also being expressed regarding possible slackness on the adoption safety measures. No business that threatens lives of the people can sustain and thrive. As per a news report carried by this daily on Monday, passengers who travelled in long route buses have recounted that bus operators not fully abiding by the safety protocol. For instance, a bus heading to Jhapa in east Nepal from Kathmandu was not heeding the rule of physical distancing between passengers and was picking up local passengers on the way. This is very worrisome scenario. Meanwhile, Minister for Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel has rightly cautioned schools against opening in haste, considering the risk of mass transmission of the virus. Some schools that are considering reopening should think twice about the consequences of their move.  

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