Lockdown extended by another 15 days

Kathmandu, May 17

A meeting of the Council of Ministers held today has decided to extend the nationwide lockdown to snap the chain of coronavirus transmission till June 2. The current stay-at-home order was to end tomorrow.

Minister of Communications and Information Yubaraj Khatiwada said that the government also decided to continue the relaxation allowed in some sectors, particularly agriculture, industries, transportation and construction. He said the government would allow contractors to carry out construction work in urban centres with limited number of workers on the condition that they maintain social distancing. Khatiwada added that the government was of the view that certain activities should be allowed during the lockdown to ensure that normal life did not get affected during the extended stay-at-home period.

He said during a press briefing that the next meeting of the High-Level Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 formed under the convenorship of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Ishwar Pokharel would decide the modality of the lockdown.

Khatiwada said the government would encourage ayurvedic and other medicine companies to produce and supply medicines that could help people boost their immunity. He said the government agencies would also encourage people to do physical exercise as the extended lockdown could have adverse impact on people’s health if they did not do certain things to keep themselves fit during the lockdown. Khatiwada added that government agencies would provide vital information to the public about how they could have balanced diet from their limited resources. He said people should avoid the tendency to travel in ambulances and goods carriages as there were instances where people travelling in ambulances and transport vehicles contracted coronavirus.

He said since the government was not sure how long it would have to battle against the coronavirus pandemic, it was mulling over allowing people staying in quarantine centres to do productive work so that they could contribute to the national economy while following social distancing rules.

A meeting of the Ishwar Pokharel-led high level committee had recommended extension of the lockdown beyond May 18 to the government.

The novel coronavirus infection has so far claimed two lives in Nepal, while close to 300 people have been infected with the disease.

Member Secretary of the Pokharel-led panel Narayan Prasad Bidari told mediapersons that the committee was of the view that the ongoing lockdown had saved many lives and it should be extended. Bidari said the committee was also in favour of strictly enforcing the ongoing lockdown and ensuring smooth supply of essential goods.

The government had first imposed the nationwide lockdown on March 24 which was repeatedly extended. On May 6, the government extended the lockdown till May 18.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 18, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.