Thursday, 13 August, 2020

Youths disregard COVID-19 risks to throng Jhor waterfall


By Sampada Anuranjanee Khatiwada

Kathmandu, July 5: Located in Tokha Municipality, right below the Shivapuri hill, the Jhor waterfall attracts a lot of visitors every year, especially during the monsoon season. Even the COVID-19 pandemic could not stop people from visiting Jhor and drenching themselves in the natural shower.

The waterfall, of late, has been a 'go-to' place to a lot of Kathamnduites, especially the youths.

"Staying at home for around three months was quite a task. Although entertainment should be the least of our priorities in the current condition where the entire nation is fighting a battle against the COVID-19, we all needed a short escape from our daily lives," said Richa Shrestha, 22, from Baneshwor. "Also, who would not want to dance in the waterfall during this hot summer season," she added.

"I had not expected Jhor to be full of people amid COVID-19 concerns. The ambience here reflects that the virus had certainly made our lives dull and boring," said Ramesh KC, 25, of Basundhara.

"All of us had missed hanging out with our friends and families in the lockdown. Now that the lockdown is being relaxed in phases, people are finding ways to rejuvenate themselves," added KC. "For rejuvenation, nature serves the purpose more than anything else."

He said that the sudden change in lifestyle was not easy to cope with. "Thus, we get out of our houses at times to hike around the valley and be familiar with nature," added KC. "This is how we freshen up our lives and keep our minds at bay, far from all the negativities the pandemic has spread.

“We opt for all the prescribed precautionary measures while we hike in and around Kathmandu hills,” added KC.

He said that had the virus not existed, he would not have been able to discover beautiful places like Jhor within Kathmandu.

While the Jhor waterfall has become a short yet beautiful escape for Kathmanduites in the midst of COVID-19 scare, the crowding of people has left the locals in fear of virus infection.

"The waterfall attracts a lot of people yearly, especially during the monsoon. Even though the flow of people is less this year compared to previous years, the crowd has increased after the government decided to relax the lockdown," said Parmila Dangol, a local shopkeeper.

Dangol said that the crowd gathering in and around the waterfall area had intensified the threat of virus spread in Jhor.

"Due to the prevalence of social media, people in large numbers visit the waterfall daily. As the cases of COVID-19 have been increasing day by day in the Kathmandu Valley, we are scared that our area may become a hotspot for virus fallout," said Dangol.

Likewise, Rabi Manandhar, another Jhor local who runs a tea shop, said, "The crowding of people to play in the waterfall has definitely boosted up my business here. But the threat of virus transmission still bothers me."

"My parents visit Lord Shiva's temple, which is located alongside the waterfall every Monday and Saturday. The fact that the virus hits the elderly makes me more worried," added Manandhar.

Meanwhile, the public health experts have said that the virus was yet to reach its peak in Nepal.

"Lockdown has been relaxed doesn’t mean we are safe from virus infection," said Dr. Rabindra Pandey. "Cases in the valley have been increasing by double-digit every day."

Dr. Pandey said that stepping out of the house without any urgency meant posing threat to one's own health. "We should stay inside unless there's an emergency. This is not the time to hang out or hike," he added.

Stating that the virus stayed longer in moist places, Dr. Pandey said, "The virus survives longer in our drenched clothes and masks. Thus, drenching in the waterfall keeping our health at risk may invite voluntary misfortune to us and our families." 

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