KATHMANDU, Nov 10: Reversing its earlier decision, the government had decided to bear the expenses involved in the testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients in all government-owned hospitals across the country.
A cabinet meeting held on Monday evening made a decision to this effect. According to cabinet sources, the decision does not speak anything if the government will bear the expenses of those receiving treatment at private hospitals.
Earlier, the government had decided to provide a free of cost test and treatment of COVID-19 to only certain sections of people including frontline health workers and security personnel. The Supreme Court, however, challenged the government's decision, ordering it to provide free of cost treatment to all citizens as guaranteed in the Constitution of Nepal, 2015.
The government was put under pressure to revoke its decision after the apex court last week rejected its review petition. While the COVID-19 test in all state-owned laboratories will be conducted free of cost, all those undergoing COVID-19 treatment at the state-owned hospitals will also not to require to bear the treatment cost with this decision.
According to a cabinet minister, the meeting also decided to form a three-member task force comprising secretaries at the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Health to expedite the process to import COVID-19 once it is developed. Many pharmaceutical companies have announced that they are closer to developing a new vaccine for COVID-19 that has already killed more than 1.2 million people.
The drugmaker Pfizer on Monday announced that early analysis of its COVID-19 vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing Covid-19.
The cabinet meeting on Monday also decided to deposit 50 percent allowances of all cabinet ministers in the COVID-19 Fund till mid-April. This comes amid criticisms from various quarters that the government had failed to exercise austerity measures in its expenses even as taxpayers are bearing the brunt of the problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.