KATHMANDU, April 14: As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address the nation on Tuesday morning to announce new measures to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), officials in Nepal are eagerly looking to hear the address to take a cue to form appropriate strategies in Nepal.
Although Nepali officials have already made up mind their minds to further extend the nationwide lockdown in view of the growing number of cases, there are suggestions coming from different sectors that the government should allow basic agricultural activities and operation of manufacturing plants and construction works, while adopting necessary precautions. "We are mulling to develop strategies similar to the ones India will adopt," said a senior government official familiar with the discussions, asking not to be named.
India had announced to enforced the nationwide lockdown on March 24, restricting the movement of entire 1.3 billion people. India's Prime Minister Modi is addressing the nation at 10 am (IST) on Tuesday as the 21-day lockdown enforced to contain possible spread of coronavirus is scheduled to expire on Tuesday mid-night.
Like in Nepal, there are different suggestions coming from different quarters as Modi is scheduled to announce new measures of nationwide lockdown on Tuesday. Modi will take a final decision from among three different options being considered in India in order to contain further spread of the COVID-19.
While a section of policymakers and experts have advised Modi to continue complete lockdown even as this would put the country's entire economic activities at a standstill till the end of this month, another section of policymakers have suggested him to adopt a strategy to lift the lockdown in a phase-wise manner, allowing agricultural activities and procurement of agricultural produce without any hindrance.
According to Indian media reports, the country is also considering the third option called 'color codes', which will divide regions into red, orange and green zones, depending upon the number of COVID-19 cases. While complete lockdown will continue to be in place in the areas identified as red zone, green zones would be allowed to function normally.
The number of COVID-19 cases in India has climbed to 9,352, while the death toll has risen to 308 so far. As many as 35 new fatalities as a result of COVID-19 were reported in India on Monday alone.
The ongoing nationwide lockdown in Nepal is set to expire on mid-night Wednesday. Senior government officials said a meeting of COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee on Tuesday will make a fresh decision while taking into account the gravity of the situation at home and the measures which the Indian government will adopt.