Opposition parties find fault with government’s response to pandemic

KATHMANDU, AUGUST 26

Opposition parties Nepali Congress and Janata Samajwadi Party-Nepal have flayed the government for failing to check the rise in the number of cases of the coronavirus pandemic.

Joint General Secretary of NC Prakash Sharan Mahat, who also heads the party’s COVID-19 response monitoring team, issued a press statement saying that the government had failed to adequately respond to the contagion.

He told THT that the government should make public its long-term and short-term plans to deal with the pandemic.

“The government does not have any plan to deal with the pandemic. One day the government lifts lockdown and after a few days it reimposes it,” Mahat said.

He added that lockdown and prohibitory orders were not a solution to the COV- ID-19 pandemic. He said people of the country wanted to know how the government was trying to fight the pandemic.

Mahat added that the government should ensure that COVID-19 patients were treated only at dedicated COVID-19 hospitals or else COVID-19 patients would die without getting admitted to hospitals.

He alleged that the government had not even paid pledged allowances to health professionals, who were at the forefront of the fight against the contagion.

“More and more frontline health professionals are getting infected with COV- ID-19. Society and the government must boost health professionals’ morale.

The government must pay risk allowances to frontline health professionals, apart from the pledged allowance and insurance,” Mahat added.

The NC also opposed the government’s recent decision to force hospitals to admit COVID-19 patients only after the consent of the Ministry of Health and Population.

“This is an irresponsible decision. Hospitals should be free to admit COVID-19 patients without the interference of the ministry,” Mahat added.

He said there was a shortage of oxygen and ventilators for COVID-19 patients, but the government had done precious little to address the issue. “The government must set up oxygen plants in all COVID-19 hospitals,” Mahat added.

Alleging that the local governments had been closing quarantine centres due to lack of budget, Mahat said the federal government must provide budget to the local governments to run quarantine centres and ensure quality healthcare facilities at those centres.

Chair of Janata Samajwadi Party-Nepal Upendra Yadav told THT that those at the helm were only worried about their chair and cared little about controlling the pandemic. “Imposing curfew and lockdown is not the right solution. The government must provide necessary equipment to health professionals and manage ventilators and oxygen for COVID-19 patients,”

Yadav said, adding the government had no plan for providing relief to the poor people who had been hit hard by the prolonged lockdown.

“We voice our concerns whenever we get a chance to interact with government representatives,” he said.

He added that due to the lockdown opposition parties were not in a position to hit the streets to protest the government’s misrule and failure to handle the pandemic.

The government hastily ended the budget session of parliament to avoid being questioned on its failure to tackle the contagion, Yadav added.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on August 27, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.