Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba met Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and handed over a 15-point memorandum drawing his attention to the growing challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stating that COVID-19 patients were unable to get beds, oxygen therapy and ventilators, Deuba said the government never learnt lessons from the past nor did it listen to others' suggestions on controlling the pandemic.

The leader of opposition demanded that the government immediately import COVID-19 vaccines and vaccinate all the citizens.

Deuba also demanded investigation into alleged irregularities in the procurement of medical equipment, medicines, vaccines and other supplies. He said lack of adequate PCR testing at border points, and lack of holding and quarantine centres has led to spike in COV- ID-19 infection. He blamed the mass gatherings organised by those in the leadership of the government for the spike in COVID-19 transmission.

He stated that people from far-flung areas and poor people were unable to get treatment due to expensive transportation and fees charged by hospitals.

The main opposition party urged the government to address the problem of shortage of oxygen cylinders, transparently distribute oxygen cylinders, beds, and ventilators in all district hospitals, ICUs and ventilators.

Stating that the third wave of COVID-19 could have serious impacts on children, the NC said the government should carry out special awareness programme to save children and set up ICU beds for children who could contract the disease. The main opposition party also demanded that the government ramp up PCR testing, and set up mobile teams to collect swabs.

The NC urged the government to bring economic relief packages for the poor, workers, journalists, small and medium enterprises and provide subsidised loans to those industries that have been hit hard by the pandemic. It also urged the government to set up hotline services in all districts to provide health and psychological counselling to those that are staying in isolation.

Stating that the current structure of COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre had failed to address the pandemic, the NC demanded that the government immediately appoint a Technical Health Secretary. It also demanded that COVID-19 prevention mechanisms be strengthened in the provinces and the government end the cartelling seen in PCR testing of migrant workers.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 21, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.