KATHMANDU, April 6: The government is preparing to extend the lockdown by at least a week after new cases of coronavirus including one locally-transmitted case were reported in far-western Nepal. A highly placed government official told Republica that the lockdown which in place since March 24 will be extended once it expires on Tuesday mid-night.
A meeting of the COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee had contemplated extending the lockdown by a week or 10 days but the committee has not taken any formal decision in this regard, said Ghanshyam Bhusal, a member of the committee. He said that both the options are open for consideration.
Based on the recommendation of the committee, a cabinet meeting scheduled for Monday is expected to formally decide on the lockdown extension.
Surya Thapa, an aide to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, said the Cabinet meeting will definitely extend the lockdown.
The government had initially decided to enforce a nationwide lockdown until March 31 but it extended the lockdown by a week till April 7. Meanwhile, all domestic and international flights have been suspended till April 15.
The government is now under pressure to extend the lockdown after new cases of the virus were confirmed while medical professionals are struggling to conduct the tests of suspects due to lack of proper testing kits.
As of April 5, less than 2,000 samples of people suspected of being infected with coronavirus have been tested while thousands of migrant workers have returned to Nepal from Gulf countries and India.
Among those tested, only nine have tested positive for the virus and one of them has already returned home after recovery.
On Saturday, three new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Kailai and Kanchanpur districts including a locally-transmitted case. Two of those who tested positive for coronavirus had returned home from India after Nepal announced a nationwide lockdown whereas as a woman contracted the disease from her relative who had recently returned home from Dubai.
Thousands of migrant workers returning home are still stranded in India across the border.
The government is under immense pressure to continue the lockdown and take immediate steps to contain the deadly virus.