DHANGADI, Oct 15: A fish market in Dhangadi on Saturday afternoon looked vibrant, thanks to a huge number of customers. This was a pleasant experience for shopkeepers whose businesses slowed down heavily since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in Nepal in March. But something equally noticeable was the absence of masks on people's faces.
“It feels like the normalcy has already returned. The inflow of customers is huge,” noted Naresh Sahani, a fishmonger near the famous LN crossroad in Dhangadhi. “But one thing is worrying. People have stopped wearing masks."
Two college girls, who were standing at a book shop nearby, said they do not care about masks anymore. “Even if we get infected, we’ll be just okay. Mask is suffocating,” they said.
When Sudurpaschim province registered its first COVID-19 case back in April, people were alarmed. Social distancing became a buzzword and the use of masks and sanitizers became common.
Six months down the line, COVID19 impacts have become worse as there is a dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and death associated with this disease. However, people have simply shown a carefree attitude instead of being more disciplined and cautious about their lifestyle.
“In the market and streets you can see people without masks. Only a few people wear masks these days. It is very dangerous,” said a local teacher, Sanjay Panta. “People think that mask is not important. But this behavior is going to have a serious consequence,” he added.
Dr Sher Bahadur Kamar at Seti Provincial Hospital also expressed worries over the situation. Stating that the negligence on the part of ordinary people could bring unimaginable consequences, he urged locals to exercise caution.
“COVID19 has already spread in the community. We are already facing danger. If people continue to be so negligent we can only expect unimaginable consequences in the days to come,” he said. “We do not have enough beds, oxygen cylinders and ventilators," he warned.
Dr Suvesh Raj Kayastha has no different view. Amid poor medical facilities, handling COVID19 patients is going to be extremely challenging, he said. “Earlier, there were asymptomatic patients. Now the number of asymptomatic patients is on the rise. What will be the situation tomorrow if people stop wearing masks, using sanitizers or avoiding social distance measures?” he asked.
The number of infected record cases in Sudurpaschim has reached 8,205 so far. Out of those, 6904 patients have already recovered. Currently, 1,301 people remain infected while 24 have lost lives, as per the information provided by Provincial Health Directorate.