Nepal | July 07, 2020

Nepal’s high-level coronavirus control panel disbanded

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The government today disbanded the High-Level Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 formed under Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Ishwar Pokharel and decided to take all necessary decisions regarding the prevention and control of COVID-19 through COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre.

Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barshman Pun said the last Cabinet meeting had decided to disband the high-level committee as there were chances of work duplication. The CCMC is also led by DPM and Defence Minister Pokharel.

Member Secretary of the CCMC Mahendra Guragain told THT that they dwelt on how the government could ramp up polymerase chain reaction tests and improve conditions of quarantines. The final decision in this regard will be taken tomorrow. “We discussed these issues from several angles, but we did not finalise anything today. We will sit tomorrow again and take decisions on PCR tests and improvement of quarantine centres,” Guragain said.

The government has come under fire for not ramping up PCR tests even when the number of COVID-19 positive cases is rising sharply across the country.

Guragain said the perception that CCMC office was transferred from “Chhauni (Nepali Army building) to Singha Durbar” was wrong. He said Singha Durbar was chosen for the CCMC meeting as there were representations from multiple government agencies and ministries.

“Some people are saying that CCMC office is in NA building, but it is not an NA building. It is a building built for disaster response and we are using the same building,” Guragain said and added that future meetings could be held in the Chhauni office.

Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Barshaman Pun, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development Ghanashyam Bhusal, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai was inducted in the CCMC today.

Coordinator of the CCMC Ishwar Pokharel issued a press release urging the public to maintain social distancing while taking part in protests as there was high risk of COV- ID-19 infection. The centre stated that it had taken seriously the issues raised by protesters.

The centre added that its attention had been drawn to issues raised by protesters recently in different parts of the country.

The CCMC release added that despite the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the number of COVID patients had risen in recent weeks. Pokharel said COVID cases were likely to surge further in the coming days and weeks. The centre stated that it was committed to making more effective plans to stem the threat of the pandemic. It claimed that Nepal’s PCR tests were higher than most South Asian countries and the government was committed to ramping up PCR testing.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 13, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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