Nepal | September 22, 2020

Cases of coronavirus rising among bank staff

Expose lack of effectiveness of measures adopted to combat spread of the COVID-19 pandemic

Himalayan News Service
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KATHMANDU, AUGUST 10

The rising cases of coronavirus among bank staffers across the country have raised serious concerns over the effectiveness of measures adopted by banks and financial institutions (BFIs) to prevent the spread of the virus.

As banking services are among essential services and directly linked to the public, the spread of the contagion among bankers has also posed a risk to the public.

So far, dozens of staffers among 12 banks across the country (10 commercial banks in Kathmandu valley and two development banks outside) have been infected with the COVID-19. Employees of Rastriya Banijya Bank, Global IME Bank, Agricultural Development Bank, Mega Bank, Nabil Bank, Nepal Investment Bank, Everest Bank, Laxmi Bank, Garima Development Bank and Tinau Mission Development Bank, among others, have been reported to have been infected with coronavirus.

As banks and financial institutions are fully open and providing services, thousands of service-seekers who visit BFIs are at risk of contracting the disease.

Experts and stakeholders have expressed serious concerns over the increasing cases of coronavirus among bank staffers. This scenario, as per experts, suggests that BFIs are not properly complying with health standards to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Cases of coronavirus in banks is a serious issue as thousands of people visit banks every day.

If BFIs do not comply with health standards properly, this can result in the virus spreading among the masses,” said Janak Raj Dahal, chief district officer, Kathmandu, adding that government agencies and banks themselves should take the issue seriously.

Moreover, the flow of people in BFIs has increased in recent weeks with the government appealing to the public to clear tax dues. Similarly, rumours that another lockdown is in the offing has also raised the flow of people in banks.

Gunakar Bhatta, spokesperson for Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), said that rising cases of coronavirus among bank staffers has worried the central bank as well. “We have time and again directed BFIs to provide services by adopting proper measures against the virus. If BFIs are found compromising with health standards, the central bank will take necessary action,” he said.

Meanwhile, bankers have said that banks have been giving due priority to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

“However, the fact that cases of coronavirus have been detected among bankers means that we still need to be more serious,” said Anil Shah, chief executive officer of Nabil Bank. Meanwhile, he suggested the public to prioritise digital banking services over visiting banks.

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