By Arpana Adhikari Kathmandu, May 4: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has sought the support of neighboring and friendly countries and international organisations to help Nepal to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Calling COVID-19 virus a global enemy, Prime Minister Oli said this deadly disease could be overcome through the collective efforts and sought global support to help Nepal with vaccines, diagnostic equipment and kits, oxygen therapy, critical care medicines and critical care furniture for the ongoing effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing the nation on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Oli called upon the frontline workers, all political parties, concerned bodies and general public to support the steps and initiatives taken by the government to contain the pandemic. PM Oli also asked the frontline workers, including doctors, health workers, sanitation workers and others to perform their duties without getting deviated. Stating that since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the government had given highest priority to its prevention, control and treatment, Prime Minister Oli said “Protection of human lives is supreme for us. Life takes precedence over everything else.” “We have strengthened our health infrastructure facilities, widened test coverage, enhanced health personnel’s capacity and started vaccinating people,” he added.
All big hospitals will be converted into COVID dedicated hospital Prime Minister Oli has announced plans to convert all the major hospitals of the country into COVID dedicated hospitals. Since protection of people’s lives is the first priority of the government, the new building of Bir Hospital and Tri-Chandra Military Hospital of Nepal Army, multi-bed medical colleges in Kathmandu Valley, major government and private hospitals will be operated as COVID dedicated hospitals, PM Olid said. The small hospitals would focus on the treatment of other diseases, he said. According to PM Oli, the Nepal Army has been instructed to build a 1,000-bed temporary hospital in all provinces and capital immediately. “The provincial government will also operate COVID dedicated hospitals in medical colleges and large hospitals of the province while small hospitals will be non-COVID hospitals.” Similarly, all types of public and community venues, stadiums, meeting halls, party palaces, hotels, factories, warehouses and other structures would be converted into well-equipped quarantines, isolation centres and necessary holding centres. All government and private hospitals are instructed to update daily details of the beds available and occupied bed in their respective hospital to the Ministry of Health and Population. “Action will be taken if any hospital is found hiding the details of availability of beds,” he added. Prime Minister Oli further announced plans to install oxygen plants in large hospitals and medical colleges. Those oxygen plants which are not in operation will be repaired soon and brought into operation. “Strict action will be taken against those who illegally export liquid oxygen. Liquid oxygen and oxygen generators will be procured and kept in stock,” he assured. Antiviral drugs and other life-saving drugs used in the treatment of COVID are to be kept in stock in each hospital. “Strict action will be taken against those who create an artificial shortage of such drugs,” he added.
50% risk allowance for health workers, recruiting retirees on contract basis Prime Minister Oli has announced to provide 50 per cent of the basic salary as risk allowance to the health workers and staff who are working in the frontline in the battle against COVID-19 pandemic. He further announced that arrangements would be made for the treatment and insurance of the families of such health workers and staff. “To prevent the shortage of health personnel, the retired health workers will be recruited for a year on contract basis,” he added.
Prohibitory order to be enforced strictly Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said that the government had decided to strictly enforce the prohibitory order to prevent and control the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, as per the recommendation of the public health experts. Despite utmost efforts, the second wave of COVID has severely hit the country with an increased number of infected people and higher mortality rate, said PM Oli, adding, “The ongoing prohibitory order will be implemented strictly to break the chain of the spread of the virus.” In the current scenario, over 7,000 are being infected with the virus daily. Considering this fact and recommendation of the health experts, the government has decided to implement the lockdown strictly, the Prime Minister said. Formation of COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee and nationwide lockdown imposed last year had helped a lot in controlling the spread of the virus, he added. Seeking support of all in the battle against the pandemic, he informed that the government had decided to suspend all domestic flights from May 3 and international ones from May 6.
COVID test will be done of all who enter Nepal Prime Minister Oli assured that an antigen test would be done on everyone entering Nepal via the international border checkpoints. He further informed that the entry of foreign nationals via the border checkpoints has been banned, while Nepali citizens would be allowed to come only after undergoing an antigen test. “Only 13 border checkpoints between Nepal and India have been opened for the entry of Nepali citizens. However, arrangement has been made for the operation of the means of transportation to continue without affecting the supply system,” he added. Similarly, contact tracing has been increasing in all levels. Every person entering Nepal via land and chartered or rescue flights will be tested first and if anyone is found infected with the virus, they would be treated before being sent to the community, he added.
PM urges people not to panic but take precautions Prime Minister Oli has urged all not to panic over the situation but to take preventive measures to contain the virus. Claiming that the transmission of the virus surged last year due to negligence on part of the citizens, he suggested people to follow all the necessary health protocols to avoid the virus transmission. Prime Minister Oli also informed that 2.1 million Nepalis had already been vaccinated of which 370,000 had received the second dose as well. He further assured that the government would remain vigilant to ensure that no one would go hungry due to the restrictions imposed to break the chain of virus infection and added arrangements would be made to prevent the economy from freefall.