Republica Morning Brief: Oct 14

Published On: October 14, 2020 06:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Nepal has reported as many as 3,556 fresh cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Tuesday. According to the latest COVID-19 data released by the Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP), the country has so far witnessed a total of 115,358 cases of COVID-19 since the first case was detected on January 23 this year. As much as 68.3 percent of the total confirmed cases -- 78,780 patients -- have gained recovery from the viral infection while 663 others lost their lives to this deadly disease. Nepal has carried out a total of 1,207,091 real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests including 15,577 in the past one day. 

As many as 2,129 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the Kathmandu Valley on Tuesday, taking the Valley’s COVID-19 case tally to 45,998. According to the latest data from the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), 1,746 people in Kathmandu, 167 in Bhaktapur and 216 in Lalitpur were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Tuesday. The health ministry also recorded 3,556 new cases of COVID-19 across the country in the past 24 hours. Of the total cases, 59.87 percent were recorded in the Valley alone.

An intra-party dispute which surfaced this week in the Karnali Provincial Committee of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), seeking the overthrow of Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, has finally been settled, at least for now. The chief minister was in soup after a group of provincial lawmakers including Yam Lal Kadel put forth a motion of no confidence at the party’s parliamentary party office on Sunday, accusing CM Shahi of failing to work effectively. However, the motion was yet to be registered at the provincial assembly secretariat. The ruling NCP has 33 lawmakers in the 40-member provincial assembly. But CM Shahi has managed to save his post following two developments. One, the provincial lawmakers of the NCP stepped back apparently following an intervention by the party’s senior leaders including Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal. Two, a new power sharing deal was reached between CM Shahi, who is also the leader of the NCP in the provincial assembly, and his opponents at the party’s provincial committee.

The Department of Commerce, Supplies and Consumer Protection has reversed the price of bottled water to the previously practiced rates. According to the department, the price of 20-liter jar water has been set at Rs 50 and 1 liter bottled water at Rs 16 in the Kathmandu Valley and Kavrepalanchowk district. Earlier, the traders had raised the price of jar water by Rs 10 to 15 per 20 liter Jar water. The department set a new price for drinking water after discussions with representatives of traders on Monday.

Revoking its earlier decision, the government has decided to allow all public transport vehicles to carry passengers full of their capacity. A cabinet meeting held on Monday made the decision to this effect, withdrawing its earlier decision to allow public transport vehicles to carry 50 percent passengers of their total capacity. The government had earlier directed public transport entrepreneurs to keep one passenger in each side of the two-seat row and charge 50 percent extra fare from passengers as a precautionary measure to control further spread of COVID-19. Cabinet sources said the earlier decision was revoked on condition to follow all health safety protocols to avoid further transmission of COVID-19. With the new decision in place, public transport entrepreneurs are now allowed to charge normal fare from the passengers.

The government has decided to close Nepal’s international border with India until November 15 in view of the growing threat of the spread of COVID-19. A cabinet meeting held on Monday evening made a decision to close Nepal’s international border with India for one more month in a bid to stop further transmission of COVID-19. The decision, however, will not affect the cross-border movement of cargo vehicles from the designated entry points.Cabinet sources said the decision is taken as both Nepal and India are witnessing a rising number of COVID-19 cases in recent days. There are fears that the increased cross-border movement in the wake of festive season could pose serious threat to the further transmission of COVID-19. 

Nepal’s economic growth remained flat in the last fiscal year 2019/20, according to the latest forecast of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Releasing the World Economic Outlook (WEO) on Tuesday, the IMF downgraded Nepal’s growth forecast to zero percent in the last fiscal year as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the economy. The forecast from the IMF is way lower than the 2.27 percent of growth projection by the Central Bureau of Statistics of Nepal in April. The IMF has, however, projects that Nepal’s economy would grow by 2.5 percent in the current fiscal year 2020/21. The growth projection for the current fiscal year is higher than the recent forecast of 0.6 percent by the World Bank.

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