Psychologically, we need to remain strong, bold, spirited, self-motivated and with strong willpower and a steadfast belief that we need to move on, life needs to continue and we shall conquer every trial and travail.
Today we are confronting one of the most colossal threats to humanity posed by the rapid spread of the COVID-19 infection. Every moment, going through the rising death tolls and surging cases of infection of the novel coronavirus in national dailies sends a chill up my spine, forcing me to ponder how COVID-19 has turned human life into mere numbers. For the time being, the infection rate per day in Nepal has crossed over a few thousand and death toll over hundred. With this, a number of children are turning orphans; a large number of senior citizens, particularly with chronic diseases, are leaving for their heavenly abodes; many pregnant women are dying out of fear of infection at hospitals, a lot more are taking recourse to unsure self-medications; and numerous youngsters are reclining to suicide and self-nullification due to depression. The overwhelming situation has ravaged not only the entire world but also every nook and corner of my own country Nepal.
Be it the rich or the poor, the lethal enemy has challenged our healthcare system where money, riches and wealth amassed prove to be futile as people die gasping for their last breath, pining for oxygen or life. In a split second, human life is packed in plastic bags and sent for cremation. How grievous is the moment when we stay away from our near and dear ones while bidding our last good-byes!! How tragic is it as no sooner one family member disappears from the world, another remains on the ICU beds seriously fighting for life!! The loss of our loved ones leaves us exasperated and yet we continue to struggle for our own life. Fear grips us wondering what next precarious news awaits us the very other moment. The emergence of new variants with frequent mutations repeatedly crumbles our high spirit to fight with the catastrophic disease.
In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest crisis of our generation that has gravely affected our social, economic and health service systems. Since the first diagnosis of the coronavirus in 2019, the world has witnessed millions of deaths and infections. In the case of Nepal, the first wave of COVID was somewhat contained, relatively causing less damage. But the second wave has been disastrous, causing fatalities and challenging the nation’s overstretched health and safety system. Nepali people are badly struggling to protect their lives and prevent loss of family members.
The global threat has most severely and disproportionately disrupted the social, economic and health infrastructure system, particularly of structurally-constrained Least Developed Countries (LDCs) like Nepal that have been inherently suffering long from the crises including poverty, hunger, illiteracy, unemployment and trade deficit. The pandemic has exposed and aggravated the vulnerabilities and inequalities vehemently in developing countries by deepening poverty and exclusion, crumbling the economies, increasing unemployment and pushing the most vulnerable ones even further behind. Although the LDCs have been advocating fair, easy, affordable and equitable access, availability and distribution of vaccines against COVID-19, a fatal disease, has inadvertently widened the gap between rich and poor countries even bigger.
Ironically, when some developed countries have already inoculated almost all vulnerable citizens for COVID-19, Nepal, which was among the first countries to vaccinate its most vulnerable people, now critically waits for second doses. Over two million people have received first doses and over 500,000 have been fully vaccinated but still millions have not received even the first dose. The country is severely overwhelmed by the unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases causing multidimensional adverse impacts with human loss and social, economic and environmental consequences.
The government has enforced prohibitory orders asking the citizens to stay inside to break the chain of transmission of infection. Appeals for international support for vaccines, oxygen, life-saving drugs, medicines, equipment and materials are in place and thankfully we are receiving a sizable invaluable medical support from some friendly countries, international community and philanthropic organizations. The government still looks forward to further international support while combating the horrendous disease. Efforts should be redoubled for further collaboration with the international community for vaccines and other essential medical supplies.
But efforts should be made from our own side, too. Wearing masks, maintaining hygienic behaviors, social distance, using sanitizers, washing hands frequently are healthy safety habits that prevent the spread of the virus.
Psychologically, we need to remain strong, bold, spirited, self-motivated and with strong willpower and a steadfast belief that we need to move on, life needs to continue and we shall conquer every trial and travail. Hard times will pass on with our efforts to defeat the unprecedented difficulty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus knows no geographical borders nor rich civilization nor political alignment nor economic status. Once life flies, we cannot bring it back. Life is precious and so are our near and dear ones. We shall live on if we continue our own life-saving habits. Let’s live safely and let others live with our healthy habits. Let’s stay inside to keep the virus away. (The author is a section officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal)