Humanity is under a constant threat of calamity even though humans think that they are the most intellectual beings on earth. Apart from natural disasters, famines and economic recession, we are exposed to the biological threats of deadly viruses time and again. As we are struggling to keep ourselves away from coronavirus, we should not forget the outbreaks of smallpox, bubonic plague, Anthrax, SARS, H1N1, Zika and EBOLA.
Humans did a fairly good job in making an empire on earth. Thousands of people died because of earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, storms, lightnings, landslides and floods in the past. Additional thousands died in wars, diseases and accidents. Still, humankind sustained. While the impact of many of these catastrophes could be minimized, we now are seemingly at a foreseeable risk of being exposed to lethal viruses like COVID-19, at any time. To my personal understanding, if ever the grandiose human empire falls apart, it may be due to such biological threats. But only if we look at the gravity of the situation with blatant ignorance.
Though it is exactly unclear—more investigations are underway to confirm—many seem to believe in the idea that novel coronavirus with its epicenter at Wuhan originated from bats or reptiles, and then they made their glorious journey to afflict the human beings. Solid proofs may keep coming but it is true that we should only resort to consuming meat products that are made in commercial confinements with edibility certification. When we continue eating non-tested wild game, we are unknowingly at a high risk of being infected with diseases as they might be the natural reservoirs of virulent microorganisms.
With nearly over 3000 death, over 90,000 infected cases and over 50 countries inflicted, COVID-19 has reasonably attracted universal attention. The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a global health emergency and rich countries are incessantly fighting against it, but yet with no substantial result in sight.
Because it is imminent that at any point in the near future Nepal too can witness this pandemic, at least we should be well-prepared to cope with it on our part. COVID-19 has spread across the globe and it would be no surprise to see it infecting Nepalis owing to the fact that our country adjoins China and we have below par security checks at the airport. First we should be working on upgrading the standards of each general hospital to take COVID-19 patients. We should also develop well-defined safeguards for isolation, testing and treatment of these contagious occurrences.
But sadly, Nepali politicians are, as always, entangled in less important issues, defamation and inside-party kerfuffle. It is indeed better late than never that the cabinet made major decisions to thwart the contagion by postponing Visit Nepal 2020 campaign, closing on-arrival visas and halting flights from severely infected countries, but again our government doesn’t seem to care much about the enormity of the disease and how close we are to be afflicted with it. Are our health personnel properly trained to treat COVID-19? Do we have enough protective gear, gloves, and masks to control the rapid spread? Do we have proper information desk, mobile testing provision, and mass quarantine facility? Are all hospitals well equipped and ready to take coronavirus patients? What we can do for precaution from the individual level is one thing, but the government should have plans to aggressively act broadly upon the emergency. Let us all wake up before it is too late.
The author is an optometrist at Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, Kathmandu