Nationwide lockdown extended till April 15

Kathmandu, April 6

The government today decided to extend COVID-19 lockdown till April 15 as the country saw the first local transmission of novel coronavirus on Saturday.

A meeting of the Cabinet held at the prime minister’s official residence took a decision to this effect in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus in the country, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Yubaraj Khatiwada said in a televised press conference after the meeting.

This is the second time the government has extended the lockdown after imposing restrictions, first on March 24 till March 31. On March 29, the government extended the lockdown for the first time till April 7.

So far, nine cases have been confirmed of which eight are active.

Three cases were reported on Saturday.

One of the three was the first case of local transmission in Nepal, after which the disease spread by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) entered the second stage of transmission.

Till then Nepal only had imported cases — only those coming from countries hit by the virus had contracted the disease.

The Cabinet also recommend to the president to end the ongoing session of Parliament. Due to the lockdown, the Parliament was adjourned time and again in the past few weeks.

The government also decided to offer a one-time payment of Rs 1,500 to each of the 50,000 health volunteers the government wanted to mobilise in the fight against the novel coronavirus. A meeting of the high-level committee for the prevention and control of COVID-19 yesterday decided to mobilise health volunteers, especially at quarantine centres.

According to Khatiwada, if a doctor working in the private sector wants to join a government hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, they will be provided facilities and posts equivalent to what government doctors get. Also, the government will provide allowances to doctors who wish to treat COVID-19 patients from private hospitals.

“This provision is to encourage private sector hospitals and doctors to get involved in COVID-19 treatment,” said Khatiwada.

The government has also revised guidelines for quarantine, whereby a person released from quarantine after 14 days should mandatorily stay in a seven-day home quarantine.

Local governments will make necessary arrangements for the same.

The Cabinet also allocated roles to ministers not represented in the high-level committee.

Minister of Women, Children and Senior Citizens Parbat Gurung has been assigned the role of devising a work plan for the welfare of women, children and senior citizens hit hard by COVID-19.

To control and prevent COV- ID-19, Minister of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Basanta Kumar Nembang has been assigned to coordinate with Province 1, Minister of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Padma Kumari Aryal with Gandaki Province, Minister of Forests and Environment Shakti Bahadur Basnet will coordinate with Karnali Province, Minister of Energy and Water Resources Barshaman Pun with Province 5, Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security Rameshwor Ray Yadav with Province 2 and Minister of Water Supply Bina Magar with Sudurpaschim Province.

Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe has been assigned the role of coordinating with political parties represented in the Parliament to develop a uniform view on the pandemic.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 07, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.