Nepal | July 14, 2020

High-level panel to decide on easing lockdown by tomorrow

Health ministry urges to unlock green, yellow zones

Ram Kumar Kamat
Share Now:

KATHMANDU, JUNE 2

The High-Level Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 formed under Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence Ishwar Pokharel will decide in a day or two whether or not to ease the lockdown.

Member Secretary of the committee Narayan Prasad Bidari said Pokharel today held discussion with industrialists, construction entrepreneurs, bankers and sectoral experts on what the modality of the lockdown should be in the coming days and weeks. According to Bidari, the high-level committee will consult doctors before taking a call on the lockdown modality to stem the threat of COVID-19. “Most of the people who were consulted today told Pokharel that the lockdown should be gradually eased. I think that will be our agenda in the next meeting,” said Bidari.

Roshan Pokharel, who is the chief specialist at the Ministry of Health and Population told THT that the ministry had recommended strategies for partial reopening on the basis of green, yellow and red zones.

The ministry has put all the border districts of the Tarai in the red zone, as each of those districts have more than 20 COVID-19 cases. Kathmandu falls in the yellow zone. Being the capital of the country, Kathmandu is at risk of witnessing more positive cases in the coming weeks.

“To minimise the risk of infection in Kathmandu, we have advised the government to keep entry routes shut for some days,” he said.

Roshan Pokharel added that the lockdown could be relaxed in urban centres of mountain and hill districts. “Shops dealing with essential goods could be allowed to open twice a day — morning and evening — while shops dealing with non-essential goods can be allowed to open for certain hours during the day,” he said.

According to him, the ministry was of the view that green and yellow zones could allow vehicles to ply on the basis of odd and even numbers.

He said rules of social distancing should be followed until the country overcame the threat of COVID-19 pandemic and use of facial mask should be made mandatory at public places.

Pokharel said unexpected number of people were likely to return from India in the coming weeks and months and that could pose a challenge in combating the coronavirus.

“We will have to add and upgrade centres to quarantine those coming from foreign countries,” he said, adding that people staying in quarantine centres could be allowed to go home after 14 days. “The World Health Organisation states that there is no risk of infection from a COVID-19 patient after 11 days. But we are exercising extra caution and will allow quarantined people to go home only after 14 days,” Pokharel added.

Consultant Infectious Disease Physician at HAMS Hospital Anup Subedee said the government lacked comprehensive plan to tackle the threat of COVID-19 pandemic. “We are facing Hobson’s choice: If we lift the lockdown now when cases of COVID-19 are rising sharply, large number of people will be at risk of infection, but if the lockdown continues, many people could die due to hunger,” he said.

He added that the government did not utilise the lockdown period to make adequate preparations. “We continue to see people succumbing to COVID-19 in quarantine centres. People in quarantine centres are not getting proper medical care. Doctors and health professionals are not available at quarantine centres,” he added.

Subedee said the government needed to ramp up testing.

“Had the government conducted around 2,000 tests a day for COVID-19 two months ago, it would have made a lot of diference,” he said. He added if the government wanted to test two per cent of the population, it should do so quickly.

“Testing two per cent of the population in six months won’t help much in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “Testing two per cent population means testing around 600,000 people. But even six lakh tests won’t be enough since the number of migrant workers returning from India is likely to be more than six lakh,” said Subedee.

He added that laboratories across the country didn’t have so many testing kits.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 3, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Landslides obstruct Sanphe-Martadi stretch

BAJURA, JULY 12 Sanphe-Martadi road section has been obstructed completely due to landslides following incessant rainfall in Bajura. People could not even cross the road after landslides occurred in many places of the road section. The possibility of opening the road was slim after landsli Read More...

75 families evacuated in Saptari

RAJBIRAJ, JULY 12 As many as 75 families of Gobargadha village are taking shelter at the National Basic Primary School after flood water from the Saptakoshi River gushed into the Hanumannagar Kankalini Municipality, Saptari, last night. Flood water had gushed into Gobargadha village surrounded Read More...

Jhapa

Flood, inundation render scores of families homeless in Jhapa

JHAPA, JULY 12 Floods in the Kankai River and other local streams of Jhapa triggered by incessant rainfall have rendered 22 families homeless in the southern part of the district. Nepal Red Cross Society Jhapa Office Emergency Work Operation Centre focal person Haricharan Khadka said that 14 f Read More...

Indrawati River sweeps away three persons

KAVRE, JULY 12 At least three persons, including a minor, have gone missing after the Indrawati River swept them away in Mandandeupur Municipality, Kavre. The river swept away two youths last evening while a minor was swept away on Friday. Ward Chairman Bishnu Mani Nepal said Chandra Lama, 37, Read More...

Dahal pledges to keep party unity intact

CHITWAN, JULY 12 Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal today pledged to keep the party unity intact. Addressing a programme organised at Chitwan Party Office, Dahal said, “We will not let the party split. Party unity will be kept intact at any cost”, he tried to assur Read More...

Salyan village at risk of landslide for last 30 years

SALYAN, JULY 12 A settlement of 100 plus families in Kapurkot Rural Municipality, Salyan, has been at risk of landslide for the past three decades. Their fear of being swept away doubles when it rains. This monsoon, six metres land in the area have caved in. However, the government and auth Read More...

Man kills uncle in Kaski

POKHARA, JULY 12 A man killed his uncle in Madi Rural Municipality, Kaski, last night. Police said Nawaraj Sapkota killed his uncle Pitamber Sapkota, 78, by attacking him with a khukuri over a minor domestic dispute. Ward Chairman Satyaraj Sapkota said Pitamber died on the spot. He said tha Read More...

Govt yet to take 50pc ownership of Khimti hydel

KATHMANDU, JULY 12 Since the government has been unable to draft the necessary documents to take 50 per cent ownership of Khimti Hydropower Project, the fate of the 60-megawatt project has landed in uncertainty. As per the project development agreement inked on January 15, 1996, Nepal Electric Read More...