KATHMANDU, March 25: Hours after the second coronavirus case confirmed in Kathmandu on March 23, the government said that the entire country would be under complete shutdown from the early next morning. Amid coronavirus outbreak fears, the government imposed the week-long lockdown to prevent people from stepping out of their homes and risking contagion.
“No one is allowed to go outside their residence except for emergency purpose and to purchase medicines or foodstuffs. All kinds of public or private vehicles are restricted except those used by security forces or health workers. All kinds of domestic commercial flights will be closed except for the ones fixed by the government or used by the security agencies,” a government committee formed to prevent and contain the COVID-19 said in its decision on Monday evening.
The government has urged all emergency and essential service delivery agencies including security, food supply, electricity, communication, customs, quarantine and garbage management, among others, to function with minimum necessary staffers during the lockdown period.
As the news regarding the lockdown, the first of its kind in the country's history, went viral on social media, most of the people whole-heartedly praised the move by the government and called it necessary to stop the virus from spreading. Few others raised questions about what one should do if they didn't have required essentials stocked up for a week. Anyway, the lockdown began at 6 AM on March 24.
People have been urged to stay their home asking to avoid them crowds. For that public places such as schools, colleges, clubs, dance bars and entertainment spaces were asked to shut. People's movement during this period has been totally restricted.
Anyone violating the rule may land in jail for a month or fined Rs 100. “If we look at the best preventive measure of this disease in the world, there is no better option than maintaining the physical distance between individuals. The government also decided to go for the same option,” said Minister for Health and Population Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal on Monday.
Unfortunately, people do not seem to have followed the safety precautions even though the infected case has climbed to 3. If you walk along the Kathmandu streets, some of them are seen strolling along the road. If you go to the narrower streets, where public settlement is much denser, you can apparently find people gossiping in front of tea shops, groceries. Some people are even found playing games. In fact, the state machineries including police and bureaucracy have found it difficult to make people realize that this lockdown is solely for the sake of people’s safety.
In most of the places, bikers are found to be forcefully running along the streets. Except for an emergency, no public transportation is allowed for the entire one week. No jobs. No business. No marketing. No shopping. But why are those people coming out of their house amid the fear of coronavirus pandemic?
China's Wuhan city, the epicenter of the COVID-19, witnessed the death of more than 3000 while Italy, one of the developed European nations has been worst hit with 6800 plus casualties. In the past 24 hours, Spain witnessed more than 700 deaths. The whole of Europe itself has been facing a dreadful situation, perhaps after World Wars. The WHO said that the epicenter of the COVID-19 is likely to be switched to the United States anytime soon. They have a robust economy and sound physical infrastructure. Compared to ours, their health mechanism is quite reliable. What would be the situation if pandemic haunts us at its fullest range? Before it is too late, it is high time we acted wisely.
It is not illiterate and uneducated who make it to the streets. So-called educated and well-informed ladies and gentlemen are seen ignoring its severity. They look too careless. Several news reports claim that Italy wasn’t that worse some ten days ago. However, negligence by the Italians facilitated the virus to spread like a wildfire claiming the thousands of lives.
Therefore, let's act wisely before it is too late. Let's follow the lockdown orders. We have no other options.