Kathmandu, March 23
The government today decided to impose a nationwide lockdown for a week starting 6:00 am tomorrow in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19.
The decision of the high-level committee for the control and prevention of novel coronavirus comes after a teenager, who returned from France recently, tested positive for COVID-19 infection, making her the second confirmed case in the country. The first person tested positive in January and has already recovered.
As per the latest decision, the lockdown will end at 6:00 am on March 31.
During the lockdown, people are barred from leaving their homes, except for essential purposes, such as medical treatment or to buy food items. Operation of all private and public vehicles, except those acquiring permits or those used by health personnel and security forces, have been completely barred.
No domestic flights will be allowed during the period, other than those operated by the security agencies or the one designated by the government. The government has already halted international flights.
All the government offices have been directed to send their non-essential staff on leave on the condition that they will be available as and when needed. However, this provision is not applicable for providers of essential services, such as health, security, food, drinking water, milk, electricity, telephone, information and communication, customs, quarantine and garbage management.
The government has also asked private sector industries, except those dealing in health equipment, food, water, milk and fuel, to send employees and workers on leave.
The government has asked business operators to maintain smooth supply of medicine and medical equipment. “If anybody is found involved in hiking prices or black-marketing on the pretext of shortage, or disrupting supplies, they will be arrested and their materials will be seized and used in the control and prevention of the disease and treatment of the infected,” reads the directive.
All 77 chief district officers have been delegated responsibility of implementing the decisions taken in line with the Communicable Disease Act, 1963. CDOs can enforce the Local Administration Act 1971, if needed, to enforce the government’s decision.
• People can go out for medical treatment and buying food items
• Vehicles acquiring permits or those used by health and security personnel will be allowed to ply
• Domestic and international flights operated by security agencies or designated by the government will be allowed to fly
• Employees of providers of most essential services, such as health, security, food, drinking water, milk, electricity, telephone, information and communication, customs, quarantine and garbage management, have to attend office
• Employees of private sector industries and factories dealing with health equipment, food, water, milk and fuel have to attend work
A version of this article appears in print on March 24, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.