Republica Morning Brief: Oct 1

Published On: October 1, 2020 06:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

The Ministry of Health and Population has issued a 24-hour ultimatum to eight private laboratories in the Kathmandu Valley to adjust the charge of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The ministry also warned that it would scrap permission given to them if they failed to abide by the government’s directive within the stipulated deadline. As per the government decision, private labs and hospitals can charge maximum Rs 2,000 for conducting PCR test for COVID-19. Star Hospital, HAMS Hospital, B and B Hospital, Nepal Mediciti Hospital, Decode Genomics and Research Center, Sooriya Healthcare, and Intrepid Diagnostic Center are found to have been charging as much as Rs 3,899 for conducting PCR test for the COVID-19.

The Constitutional Bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra SJB Rana has begun testing the constitutional ground of the appointment ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Vice Chairman Bamdev Gautam as a member of National Assembly (NA) and his possible appointment as a minister. The five-member bench comprising justices Deepak Kumar Karki, Hari Krishna Karki, Bishwombhar Prasad Shrestha and Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada began testing the constitutionality of his appointment as a member of the upper house. Gautam was defeated in the election to the House of Representatives (HoR) held two and a half years ago from Bardiya-1. Citing his defeat as a member of the lower house of the federal parliament, senior advocate Dinesh Tripathi filed a PIL in the Supreme Court. The petitioner claimed that Gautam's appointment in the HoR fails to honor people’s verdict as he was defeated in the election and thus barred from holding the posts of a lawmaker and minister as per the Article 78 (4) of the Constitution of Nepal, 2015.

The Ministry of Health and Population said on Thursday that 1,559 cases, 1,057 recoveries, and seven deaths linked to novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were recorded in the past 24 hours. At a regular briefing, Jageshwar Gautam, spokesperson for the health ministry said that 1,559 new cases of coronavirus were detected through 12,205 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests conducted at various labs across the country in the past 24 hours. With new cases recorded in the past one day, the country’s coronavirus case tally has risen to 77, 817. The number of COVID-19 patients discharged after recovery from various isolation centers and health facilities has reached 76,428 with 1,057 more people recovered from the COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

As Nepal opens trekking and mountaineering activities, tourists, instead of on-arrival visa are now required to get pre-approval from the Department of Immigration before entering Nepal. The criteria set by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has stated that all tourists must have acquired their visas before coming to Nepal and if there is no body to issue visas for Nepal in their countries, they can come to Nepal in coordination with Nepal-based travel or trekking agencies. For pre-approval for their entry to Nepal, tourists coming to Nepal will be recommended to the Department of Immigration through the Department of Tourism for mountaineering and Nepal Tourism Board for trekking. Related agencies will be informed about the recommendation. If the tourist does not have a visa, s/he can show pre-approval documents at the immigration. Such tourists will be provided with visas at the immigration point upon their arrival at the airport.

Both the northern border points of Nepal--Rasuwagadi and Tatopani--are to come into operation soon following the health safety protocols. According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, the government officials of both countries--Nepal and China--reached the agreement to resume Rasuwagadi border point through the virtual meeting on Tuesday. The actual date of resumption, however, is yet to be finalized. Likewise, the meeting of the Joint Working Group, which comprises the government officials from both countries,  held at Tatopani border point on Tuesday has decided to open the border point from October 5. With the resumption of Tatopani point, the first priority will be given to some 1200 containers of Nepal that remain stranded in Tibet due to COVID-19 pandemic and various natural disasters, according to Lal Bahadur Khatri, the Chief Officer at Tatopani Dry Port.

The Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE), Tahachal has suspended issuing labor permits to migrant laborers for a few days after an employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). According to the director and information officer at the DoFE, Tikamani Neupane, the department has postponed the service of issuing labor permits to migrant laborers effective from Wednesday. However, the office will remain open during this period.

One more rape case of a minor has surfaced in Rautahat district.  The 15-year-old girl from Katariya municipality-1 was raped at a paddy field nearby her house on Monday. Police have arrested a local Indal Das, 25, in connection with the crime. According to DSP Rabi Rawal, Chief of Area Police Office of Garuda, the girl had gone out to fetch water when the man forcefully dragged her to a paddy field and raped her. She came back home injured and reported the incident to her family. Her father subsequently informed police about the incident.

Artists from the Shilpee Theater on Wednesday performed a street drama at Patan Durbar Square, Lalitpur expressing solidarity with the ongoing hunger strike of Dr Govinda KC. The Senior Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr Govinda KC is currently in his 19th hunger strike demanding reforms in the medical sector in the country. Although he began his 19th hunger strike in Karnali, the government authorities later brought him to Kathmandu for treatment as his condition worsened. Dr KC has since been admitted to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj. Youths in various parts of the country including in Kathmandu Valley have been staging protests in support of Dr KC in a bid to put pressure on the government to meet the promises made to Dr KC in the past.

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