Friday, 30 October, 2020
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OPINION

Corona Is Not Taboo



Bini Dahal

UNTIL about three months ago, Nepal had only one confirmed case of COVID-19. One day after detecting the second case, the government enforced the nationwide lockdown from March 24. As the country did not see a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases for some weeks following the lockdown, the government authorities and people were hopeful that the deadly virus disease would not grip the nation.
Even after going into the lockdown for more than 70 days, our situation has become panicky as more people are being infected with the virus every passing day. The number of COVID-19 cases exceeded 2,300, with a total of nine deaths. With the government extending its testing services, more infections are being detected.
Despite the sealing of the international border, the movement of people across the Nepal-India border has continued. Most of the people infected with the virus in various districts adjoining India had returned from the southern neighbour. The continuous spread of the virus could also be attributed to lack of proper coordination between the public and the government. The government says that it has been trying its best to ensure testing services for more people. But it does not have adequate kits to test thousands of people. Many are still coming back.
Besides, there are instances where some people staying in quarantines have run away or committed suicide. It’s quite shocking to know that people are considering quarantines to be a prison. But why not? Many quarantines are reported to be mismanaged, overcrowded and not up to the mark. There is a high chance that even the healthy people in the quarantine itself may catch other kinds of infection and disease.
Recently, a health worker in Rajpur Municipality of Rautahat district was attacked by people staying in the quarantine. Their polymerase chain reaction (PCR) reports showed that they had tested negative for the virus. So, they were in the process of being sent back home. But as a final test, they were asked to undergo a rapid diagnostic test (RDT) which they did not agree to. The dispute went overboard when the health worker was critically injured.
Such unwanted incidents take place due to lack of awareness among people and the absence of seriousness from the government’s side. It is very important for the responsible authorities to make people feel comfortable in a situation like this. Such people should be taken into confidence by creating a favourable environment.
Some nations such as China and South Korea have already proved the need for collaborative efforts between the government and people to cope with the pandemic efficiently. But we lack the efficiency and effort to change. The lockdown in Nepal has become one of the longest in the world. Yet, it has not been as effective as expected. Immediate and proper testing followed by safe and standard quarantine facilities must be made available for all.
The coronavirus has also become a topic of social taboo. Neither are people satisfied with the way the government is working, nor are they showing sympathy towards the infected ones. But this kind of hate needs to be stopped at all cost. Whether they are health workers or patients, they deserve proper respect, care and patience. 

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