Republica Morning Brief: Sept 30

Published On: September 30, 2020 06:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Targeting the upcoming festivals, the Food Management and Trading Company (FMTC) is going to open fair price shops at five locations in the Kathmandu Valley from Thursday. Every year during the festive season, the state-owned enterprise has been operating fair price shops. Although the goods that the company sells do not have large reductions in prices, such government intervention is expected to help maintain price stability during the festivals when the demand for essentials goes up very high. The FMTC is operating such shops at the company’s outlets in the Valley. The shops will be located at Thapathali, Ram Shah Path and Nakkhu of Kathmandu, Suryabinayak of Bhaktapur and Lagankhel of Lalitpur.

The government has said that media reports that claimed that Russia’s sovereign wealth fund was supplying 25 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal is a rumor. Senior officials at the Ministry of Health and Population said they are unaware of any such development. “The government is unaware about the agreement between Trinity Pharmaceuticals and Russia’s sovereign wealth fund. The news reports emerged on Tuesday is just a rumor,” said Dr Khem Karki, chief advisor to Health Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal. The remarks of Dr Karki comes in the wake of several international news reports on Tuesday claiming that Russia agreed to supply 25 million doses of Sputnik V – a possible coronavirus vaccine –to Nepal via Trinity Pharmaceuticals.

The government has carried out a total of 1,009,298 real time polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCR) as of Monday. According to the daily situation reports published by the Health Ministry, the PCR tests carried out at various labs throughout the country crossed the 100,000 mark by the first week of June which doubled by the end of June and reached 554,388 including 11,522 new tests on August 19. Health Ministry officials said the first test to confirm the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Nepal was conducted at the Teku-based National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) in Kathmandu on January 23 this year. The throat swab samples of a China-returnee 32-year-old student were, however, sent to the Hong Kong-based WHO laboratory for further confirmation.  The second lab to start PCR test services in Nepal was the lab at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS) in Dharan. The government expanded the number of  PCR labs across the country on March 29. By April 1, the total number of RT-PCR tests in the country reached as many as 1,145.  The total number of people undergoing the tests climbed to 11,524 on April 29.

Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has decided not to charge fines to its customers as the authority has been unable to resume the meter reading service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NEA took the decision after a direction from Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Barshaman Pun. Minister Pun had directed the acting Executive Director Lekhnath Koirala of NEA to make arrangements for waiving the fines for the customers as the meter reading service remains halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NEA has failed to carry out the meter reading service for most of its customers owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

Nepal witnessed 1,513 cases, 731 recoveries, and 10 fatalities linked to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) said on Tuesday afternoon. While sharing the country’s national update on the COVID-19 situation, spokesperson for the MoHP, Jageshwar Gautam said that 1,513 new cases of COVID-19 were detected through 10,891 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests conducted at various laboratories across the country in the past one day. The Kathmandu Valley alone saw 934 cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours. This is the highest single-day spike of cases of coronavirus in the Valley as of today. There are currently 20,296 active cases of coronavirus across the country, according to Spokesperson Gautam.

The local administrations of the federal capital of the country, the Kathmandu Valley, had decided to allow public passenger vehicles to ply the roads according to the odd-even rule by following health safety protocols and limiting the number of passengers to half the capacity. However, due to the lack of proper inspection by the responsible governing bodies, the public vehicles are turning into hotspots for COVID-19 transmission. According to the World Health Organization, there is very high risk of COVID-19 transmission in Public Vehicles if the health safety guidelines are neglected. The government has made disinfecting the vehicles, using face masks by both the operators and passengers, maintaining social distance and hand hygiene mandatory while operation of public vehicles. But, these rules are seen highly neglected.

Padmashree Sahitya Puraskar and Padmashree Sadhana Samman, two famous literary awards in Nepal, have been cancelled for this year. The Khemlal-Harikala Lamichhane Samaaj Kalyan Pratisthan on Sunday had announced that it would confer this year’s Padmashree Sahitya Puraskar and the Padmashree Sadhana Samman upon novelist Dr Sanjeev Uprety and litterateur Modanath Prashrit, respectively. However, Uprety decided not to receive the award amid social media uproar against Prashrit who has been facing a rape charge for a long time. Prashrit, who is also a former education minister, has been portrayed as a brutal rapist in an autobiography 'Dharatal' authored by Sharada Bhushal.

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