KATHMANDU, June 13: Independent youths are taking to the streets in the capital and various parts of the country today against the government's poor response to the COVID-19 pandemic and growing corruption.
Issuing a press release on Saturday, a youth campaign called "Enough is Enough" has expressed its solidarity with the ongoing protests.
"As the country is reeling under the present public health crisis, deep economic distress, and challenges on many other fronts, Nepali citizens are fighting to safeguard their most basic needs and rights. The most vulnerable amongst us are having to fight the hardest; migrants, Dalits, women - given the deep socio-economic inequities that already plague Nepali society, the campaign said in the press release.
In response to the government's lack of urgency, transparency, and accountability concerning COVID-19 management, a series of non-violent, citizen-led, non-partisan protests have erupted across the country, it said.
In the last four days, independent protests have been organized in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Biratnagar, Dhangadi, Chitwan, Surkhet, Birgunj, Dhankuta, Bhaktapur, Butwal, Dang, Palpa, Hetauda, Lalitpur among other places.
These protests have been self-organized, leader-less and spontaneous.
Accusing the political leadership of promoting denial, misinformation, the group has demanded the following :
1) PCR TESTING AVAILABLE FOR EVERYONE AT RISK, REGARDLESS OF SYMPTOMS, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE including
a. All people returning from India
b. All people entering the country from abroad via air or land including those coming back from the middle east and others.
c. All known contacts of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases
d. All health workers, essential workers, and others at risk (on a regular basis)
e. All people showing symptoms of advanced respiratory infections or other COVID-19 symptoms including fever and loss of smell/taste regardless of travel history or contact with a known confirmed case.
f. All other medically recommended for PCR tests
2) IMPLEMENT THE 4-TIER TRIAGE APPROACH FOR ALL AT RISK
Test using PCR on arrival and as early as possible for arriving travellers.
1. Safe self-isolation at home (if possible) for a minimum of 14 days with monitoring and tracking of symptoms and adherence to isolation standards supported by the local government.
2. Safe voluntary mass quarantine managed by the local government for individuals who cannot safely self-quarantine at home for practical reasons like lack of adequate space, remote areas, safety or domestic concerns, etc.
3. Medically supervised mass isolation centers for all patients testing positive for COVID-19 but do not exhibit severe symptoms. Such facilities should be in close proximity of COVID-19 related Hospital care
4. Hospital-based advanced care available for all COVID-19 patients requiring medical management
3) PROTECT FRONT-LINE HEALTH CARE AND HOSPITAL WORKERS including
a. Provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all who require it
b. Provide safe housing facilities as needed, and legal protection for tenants
c. Implement a zero-tolerance, legally binding policy against discrimination or stigma against health and hospital care staff.
d. Financial security and compensation in the event of death or disability incurred while providing care for COVID-19 patients
4) PROVIDE LEGALLY BINDING PROTECTION AGAINST STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION FOR ANYONE WHO IS SUSPECTED OR CONFIRMED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
5) ENSURE DIGNITY AND RELIEF MEASURES FOR DAILY WAGE WORKERS, RETURNEE MIGRANTS AND ALL LOWEST INCOME AND MARGINALISED COMMUNITIES
1) Ensure their basic needs ie; safe transportation, food, water and shelter are met
2) Ensure safety for women, children and other vulnerable groups
6) COMMIT TO TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY BY SHARING ALL COVID-MANAGEMENT PROGRESS WITH THE PUBLIC INCLUDING BUDGET ALLOCATIONS AND EXPENDITURES
"We continued to pledge our commitment to non-violence, physical distancing and safety. We are not anti-national elements as some conspiracy theories suggest. We salute all positive efforts made by front-line workers, local level volunteer groups, and community leaders," read the press release.
Despite risks that the pandemic poses, we feel it is our right and our duty as citizens to voice protest and stand in solidarity with each other, and especially with our brothers and sisters who are at the highest risk right now but are not able to have their voices heard, it said.