Experts suggest govt relax ongoing lockdown in 'cautious manner'

Published On: June 4, 2020 08:02 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, June 4: Public health experts and economists have urged the government to take initiative to relax the ongoing nationwide lockdown in a cautious manner. 

They made the suggestions to the government during a meeting called by Prime Minister K P Oli to discuss a future course of action as the prolonged lockdown has thrown the life of ordinary people out of gear. Around 25 experts including public health experts, economists, development planners, health care professionals as well as social activists were invited at the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Baluwatar for consultations on Wednesday evening.Public Health Expert Sameer Mani Dixit said he asked the Prime Minister to take initiative to relax the ongoing lockdown immediately. He also asked the government to further expand the scope of testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) among people suspected to have come into contact with the COVID-19 patients across the country.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ishwar Pokharal, who is also coordinator of the High-Level Coordination Committee to Prevent and Control Covid-19, Health Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal and Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and Secretary at the Ministry of Health Laxman Aryal were also among those present in the meeting. At the outset of the meeting, Prime Minister Oli had said that he decided to hold a consultation meeting as different opinions were coming from different experts whether to lift the ongoing lockdown measures.

Most experts said that the prolonged extension of lockdown had brought adverse impacts on the lives of ordinary people. They suggested that it is high time the government relaxed the lockdown measures to help make their life easier, while making sure that the scope of COVID-19 testing is expanded further and the quality of quarantine facilities is improved. 

Prime Minister's Press Adviser Surya Thapa said the four-hour long meeting was highly productive and fruitful. A meeting of the High-Level Coordination Committee to Prevent and Control Covid-19 led by Deputy Prime Minister Pokharel scheduled for Thursday is set to take necessary decisions on the modality to relax the lockdown. 

Nepal enforced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the COVID-19 on March 24. The lockdown has been extended until June 14 as there has been a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases .

The consultation meeting of Prime Minister Oli with concerned experts came in the wake of increasing numbers of people defying the lockdown enforced by the government. In Kathmandu, small business owners have announced to open their shops for limited hours in the morning starting Thursday. Similarly,  businesspersons in Biratnagar, Pokhara, Birgunj and a number of other towns have announced to open their businesses by adopting necessary precautionary measures. 

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