Nepal | May 27, 2020

Nationwide lockdown extended till May 18

Ram Kumar Kamat
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  • International, domestic flights to remain suspended till May 31
  • Border to remain sealed

Kathmandu, May 6

The government today decided to extend the ongoing nationwide lockdown until May 18.  Today’s Cabinet meeting also decided to extend the suspension of domestic and international flights till May 31.

Minister of Communications and Information Technology Yubaraj Khatiwada told mediapersons that the government also decided to keep all border entry points shut till May 31 to stem the threat of COVID-19 pandemic.

As per the government’s decision, transportation of essential goods, including food items and medicines, will remain unaffected.

The government decided to allow the production and sale of agriculture goods, food items, fishery, meat and poultry items, medicines and construction materials for development projects. Basic banking services and industries will also remain open. Khatiwada said Central and Provincial COVID Crisis Management Committee would coordinate and allow these activities in districts, assessing the threat of COVID-19 infection in those areas; while doing so the committees would have to ensure that people involved in these activities follow the rules of physical and social distancing.

The government has sought people’s cooperation to enforce ongoing lockdown. It warned that if anybody violated the lockdown, crossed into Nepal or gave shelter to foreigners, then they would be punished in accordance with the prevailing laws.

The nationwide lockdown first came into effect on March 24 when the second coronavirus case was reported in Kathmandu. Since then the government has extended the lockdown several times to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security Rameshwar Ray Yadav told THT that Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli decided to extend the lockdown, saying the risk of infection in Nepal had not diminished, as COVID-19  cases continued to rise in some Tarai districts of Nepal bordering India.

Epidemiologist and Public Health Expert Sujan Marhatta told THT that the government was resorting to the easy measure of lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 without utilising the lockdown period to increase coronavirus testing, the capacity of hospitals, supplies of equipment and training doctors and health professions deployed in diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 patients. “The government does not seem to have an exit plan. It is not taking into account the impacts of the lockdown on the economy and health of the public,” he said. He added that the government should have gone for relaxation in green zones.

Marhatta said the lockdown would not help bring the number of COVID-19 infections to zero, therefore, the government should start making the public aware of the risk of infection and the need to adopt social and physical distancing in their daily lives.

Marhatta said the extended lockdown that rendered many people jobless could cause other health problems, particularly among poor people and daily wagers, who were unable to meet their daily needs due to loss of shelter and livelihood. “The extended lockdown has become a pretext for the government to say that it has not been able to resume supplies of essential goods due to the lockdown,” he added.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 7, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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