House of Representatives discusses coronavirus outbreak
KATHMANDU, March 7: The House of Representatives on Friday held nearly four hours long deliberations on precautionary measures against coronavirus, which has spread to over 90 countries by the end of Friday. Ironically, lawmakers complained of not having water to wash their hands in the parliament building itself.
Taking part in the deliberations on motion of public importance, registered by former health minister Gagan Thapa, lawmakers also complained that taps and bathrooms in the parliament building were without water.
“The government appeals to the public to wash hands with soap and maintain sanitation. But there is no water even in the bathrooms and toilets of our parliament building,” said Nepali Congress lawmaker Pramila Rai while taking part in the deliberation in the lower house.
Reminding the government’s renewed promise to supply drinking water from Melamchi River, Rai said that people are still forced to quench their thirst by purchasing bottled water.
Another NC lawmaker Min Bahadur Biswakarma questioned the government’s preparedness to handle the risk of coronavirus outbreak in the country when the parliament building itself lacks water.
“We don’t have water and sanitizer in the parliament. How can we supply sanitizer to our villages and public schools?” said former minister Biswakarma.
During the deliberations, majority of lawmakers criticized the government for failing to adopt precautionary measures at the airport and border entry points. They said that the government has not set up enough isolation camps for people flocking into the country from coronavirus affected places.
“Many lawmakers suggested washing hands for protection from the virus but no one gets water when you visit the washrooms in this parliament. Can we prevent the spread of coronavirus in this way?” NC lawmaker Dev Prasad Timilsina asked the government.
In the motion, former minister Thapa proposed forming a special parliamentary mechanism for monitoring the government initiatives to prevent coronavirus with the authority to issue directives if required. He also demanded increasing the capacity of medical labs, adding more isolation beds, and setting up of unified information mechanism among others.
“What is the plan of the government to regulate the arrival of people from countries affected by coronavirus?” Thapa asked the health minister while tabling the proposal.
Lawmakers also complained of black marketing of essential goods, cooking gas, surgical masks and other protective gears in the market.
Responding to the lawmakers’ concerns, Minister for Health and Population Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal said that the government is planning to screen all the visitors arriving here from countries affected by coronavirus.
“I hope the Speaker has already taken note of the issue. Lawmakers have complained of not getting water in the parliament. I hope it would be justifiable if I remind the issue to the Speaker once again,” said Minister Dhakal.