Lockdown won’t be lifted anytime soon: PM Oli

Kathmandu, April 11

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today told the chief ministers of provinces that the current lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus could not be lifted immediately as the number of COVID-19 infected cases continued to rise in India.

The PM said this while discussing the coronavirus crisis with all the chief ministers for about four hours via video conference today. He urged the chief ministers to strictly enforce the lockdown in their jurisdiction.

According to Prime Minister Oli’s Press Adviser Surya Thapa, the PM told the CMs that their efforts were positive but there was need for all the provinces to move ahead in a coordinated manner to tackle the menace of the deadly disease.

The PM said there was no alternative to maintaining social distance to contain the spread of the pandemic.

He said the government was effectively and successfully doing its job to contain the deadly virus and the public should not be misled by rumours. He also said the country’s health sector would witness qualitative changes in terms of equipment,management of laboratories and health professionals as the government was increasing its preparedness to deal with the pandemic.

Stating that laxity in government agencies’ efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 could not be tolerated, the PM said the public should also take precautionary measures to stem the threat of the deadly disease.

The PM also told the chief ministers that the government was exercising full authority to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic and there was no need for extra mechanism outside the government to contain the threat. The PM’s remarks are seen as a rejection of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s proposal in a recent television interview that a new mechanism needed to be formed under the PM comprising opposition parties’ leaders to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

The PM said there was no need for anybody to give the impression that they were issuing directives to the government during the lockdown to deal with the pandemic.

The PM also said volunteers deployed in the prevention and diagnosis of COVID-19 should be healthy and guided by the spirit of social service without seeking any economic incentive for the service they could provide in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. The PM said the administration and police should prevent people from gathering in open markets in villages and the federal government would issue a circular about it so that there could be uniform rules related to the issue.

The government also told chief ministers to intensify awareness campaigns to make people understand that the current lockdown was not aimed at tormenting people but at saving their lives. The PM also told the chief ministers to promote the use of face masks, goggles, and to maintain cleanliness in the communities and to provide psychological counselling to the public.

The chief ministers of all seven provinces briefed the PM about the steps they had taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Province 2 Chief Minister M Lalbabu Raut told THT that the PM’s deliberation indicated that the ongoing lockdown could be extended. “Even the chief ministers urged the PM to extend the lockdown to stem the threat of the pandemic,” he said and added that the PM sought to know from the chief ministers about their preparedness, including the status of diagnosis and treatment centres and situation on the Nepal-India border.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 12, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.