Friday, 14 August, 2020
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EDITORIAL

Worrisome Virus Spread



Nepal has reported a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 infections within a week following the lifting of the four-month-long nationwide lockdown. The government had terminated the protracted restrictive measure last week to reopen the economy and ease the social life. But, on Tuesday alone, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) announced a total of 311 new cases of the virus disease within 24 hours. Those cases were detected in 39 districts. The Kathmandu Valley alone recorded 53 fresh cases of infection. Together with them, the number of the virus infections has surpassed 19,000, with a total of 49 deaths. This is certainly a matter of great worry. With increased mobility of people, there has been a high risk of the virus disease being spread to the community. Some cases have been detected among people staying at busy marketplaces like Asan and Mahabouddha of Kathmandu. This indicates that the coronavirus has been transmitting rapidly in the valley that was considered safe until recently.

Over the past couple of days, there has also been an alarming surge in the transmission of COVID-19 among the security personnel. They are the frontline workers, who have a tough responsibility of maintaining security in the society amid the spread of the pandemic and rain-triggered disasters. As per a news report carried by this daily on Wednesday, as many as 387 security personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus so far. The rate of infections among officials of Nepal Police is much higher compared to that of Armed Police Force and Nepali Army. About two dozen Nepal Police personnel working at the Headquarters tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. With this figure, the total number of virus infected officials at the Nepal Police Headquarters alone exceeded 30. As of Tuesday, a total of 216 Nepal Police personnel were infected with the coronavirus. Some 100 of them have recovered while the remaining ones are in isolation wards of COVID-19 Hospital run by the Armed Police Force at Balambu. A police constable, who had returned from outside the valley few weeks back, is believed to be the main source of the transmission of the virus at the headquarters.

Some 79 of the total security personnel infected with the coronavirus belong to the Nepali Army. Most of the infected army personnel were found deployed in the management of quarantines across the country. It is, however, encouraging to note that 71 of them have already recuperated and resumed their duty. Rest of them are receiving treatment at Birendra Army Hospital at Chhauni of the capital. Similarly, some 92 APF personnel were infected with the virus. Sixty-five of them have recovered and returned to their duties. The remaining 27 are still undergoing treatment. Most of the APF personnel infected with COVID-19 had been deployed for border security.

If the current trend of coronavirus spread continues, the situation may worsen soon. Keeping this in mind, the government may have to review its decision to totally lift the nationwide lockdown. All the medium and long-route public vehicles, and domestic and international flights are scheduled to resume from August 17. This may cause a higher risk of the virus transmission. Despite opening up of economic activities, nobody should ignore observing the safety measures like social distancing, wearing face masks and washings hands with soap and water to remain safe from the deadly virus disease. 

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