These are extraordinary times and require extraordinary measures from the government including declaration of a nationwide lockdown. A 19-year-old Nepali woman has tested positive for COVID-19. She traveled to Nepal from France via a Qatar Airways flight on March 17. This case should raise alarm bells for us all. We should urgently take a bold decision to implement a nation-wide lockdown.
Scores of passengers who traveled on that Qatar Airways flight went home, and they have been in contact with countless people by now. It is extremely important to trace every single individual she has come to contact and put them in quarantine at the earliest. Although the government announced a halt to all non-essential services from March 22 to April 3, in the Kathmandu Valley and other major cities most shops are still open and the movement of people has not stopped. Movement of people must be stopped immediately in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Italy is in a complete lockdown. Reports say initial complacency in enforcing partial lockdowns failed and people did not stop their daily activities. Even the leaders in the government sent confusing messages to the people. As a result, thousands of people have died of the virus and the whole country is suffering, despite having one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
Our case is different. In the unfortunate event of the spread of the virus, our weak health infrastructure will collapse. We simply do not have enough medical equipment, medical professionals and hospitals to handle such large-scale medical emergencies. Our best-case scenario is to prevent the virus from spreading. A complete lockdown is the only solution.
The government must communicate with the people that they avoid venturing out of their houses unless absolutely necessary. It is not a festival time. This is a moment of national emergency, and we must deal with it accordingly. We cannot afford to be another Italy or the United States. Even the US is struggling to have the people tested on time, and the virus has spread to all of the 50 states.
We must increase our testing capabilities. We should have the test centers in all seven provinces. We applaud the government for shutting down the borders with India and China. There is more the government can do at the moment. We urge the government to be transparent with the press so that we can report the truth to the people on time. But for now, let us go for a 15-day lockdown and save the country and the economy.