Budget for improvement of quarantine facilities
Kathmandu, June 18
The government has allocated around Rs 132.2 million to 176 local levels for establishment, management and improvement of quarantine facilities.
According to a notice issued by the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers today, the fund was allocated to local levels to operate quarantine facilities in line with Standard on Operation and Management of Quarantine for COVID-19 Quarantine Facilities. Many quarantine centres were found lacking basic amenities and, skilled human resources and necessary medical equipment such as oxygen cylinders and ventilators.
Various national and international human rights organisations, opposition parties and the general public had long pressurised the government to improve condition of quarantine facilities after some quarantined persons died due to dilapidated situation of such facilities. According to the OPMCM, the local levels will have to utilise the fund to upgrade quarantine facilitates to meet the standards set by the government.
People kept in quarantine facilities have been facing inhumane and disrespectful treatment. Quarantine shelters also lack proper management.
Contrary to the standard, many quarantine facilities do not have doctors and nurses. Some are without safety gears for health workers and people have been compelled to sleep on the floor due to lack of beds. As per the standard, the concerned local levels are required to enforce good hygiene practices and provide safety equipment at quarantine centres. They need to be equipped with geder-friendly bathrooms and toilets, food, dining areas, visitors’ entry and exit points and waiting rooms.
Due to lack of proper facilities, asymptomatic persons avoid staying in quarantine centres. Even those quarantined have been attempting to run away. This has increased the risk of disease transmission at the community level.
Recently, the National Human Rights Commission had called on the government and authorities concerned to ensure basic amenities in quarantine centres, along with regular health check-up of the quarantined people as per standards issued by the government and WHO.
The OPMCM also said it had allocated around Rs 27.7 million to 20 local levels for establishment, management and improvement of holding centres, where Nepalis returning from India via land routes will be kept.
A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 19, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.