Govt tightens lockdown measures as COVID-19 crisis enters second phase

Published On: April 5, 2020 08:15 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, April 5: The government has further tightened the measures against coronavirus as the crisis entered the second phase with the confirmation of the first locally transmitted case in Kailali district on Saturday.

Under the new measures, locals are strictly barred from making any movement from one village to another.

“The movement of locals from one province to another province, one local unit to another and one village to another village will be strictly restricted,” said government's spokesperson Yuba Raj Khatiwada after a cabinet meeting on Saturday.

Both the provincial and local governments have been strictly told to ensure foolproof security to medical professionals deployed in the frontline to combat coronavirus and take action if anyone obstructs the measures taken to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The cabinet meeting has directed the concerned government authorities to ensure the availability of protective gears for health workers involved in curing coronavirus patients as per the international standard at the earliest and ensure all necessary measures required to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

The government has already announced insurance and incentives for health professionals. Doctors, however, have been complaining of lack of adequate PPEs and other medical equipment at a time when the government's initiative to bring in medical supplies from China has courted controversy due to the shady deal with the supplier.

Strict lockdown measures were adopted after three new cases of coronavirus including the first case of local transmission were reported in Kailai and Kanchanpur districts of Sudur Paschim Province. Both the districts share open border with India.

Two of them who tested positive for coronavirus had returned home from India after the Government of Nepal announced a nationwide lockdown whereas as a woman contracted the disease from one of her relatives who returned home recently from Dubai.

Although government spokesperson Khatiwada did not specify whether the existing lockdown period will be extended beyond April 7 or not, informed sources said that the government is preparing to extend the lockdown by at least a week after the confirmation of new cases.

“We have not yet decided about extension of the lockdown period. It will be decided soon,” said Khatiwda.

During the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has reportedly expressed his concern about the emergence of recent cases of coronavirus in Baglung, Kailali and Kanchanpur.

The government has decided to conduct rapid diagnostic tests in those districts to contain the further spread of the virus. The tests will be later revivified through PCR testing method, according to Khatiwada.

“Mass testing of suspected people will be conducted in the three districts,” he added.

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