Minister of Health and Population Birodh Khatiwada tried to allay people's fear saying that the government was not in favour of imposing unnecessary lockdown to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Addressing a programme at Kirtipur Hospital today, Minister Khatiwada said that although the government had imposed nationwide lockdown in the past emulating the practices of other countries, this time the government was not in favour of imposing lockdown unnecessarily.

Stating that previous lockdowns had adversely impacted the country's economic, social, and educational sectors, Khatiwada said the government was not of the view that lockdown alone was the solution to the problem.

The minister said that the government had imposed unnecessary lockdown in the past even when there were a few cases because countries in Europe were doing the same. He said the previous lockdown could have saved some lives, but the adverse impacts it had on the economy, society, and education were more dreadful than death. He said the lockdowns had led to loss of revenue and as a result the government was not able to spend money on the social sector.

"In the past, we imposed lockdowns for one to two months. Our decision was not judicious because when we were supposed to impose lockdown we did not do so and when we were not supposed to lock down, we imposed lockdown,"

Khatiwada said.

He said the government would impose lockdown in certain places if need be, but there wouldn't be blanket lockdown. He said people should not worry that there would be another lockdown. The minister said the government had increased its preparedness against COVID-19 and in comparison to the past two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, this time the government had increased its capacity, particularly, in isolation wards, ICUs, and oxygen cylinders by threefold.

He urged the public to regularly use mask and sanitiser to ward off the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Minister Khatiwada said that the government would start providing booster shots to all citizens from the first week of February.

Frontline health workers will receive their booster shots from the third week of January and people above 60 years of age from the fourth week of January.

The govt will start providing booster shots to all citizens from the first week of February - Health Minister Birodh Khatiwada

A version of this article appears in the print on January 14, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.