Conflict Alerts # 47, 18 March 2020
In view of the rapid spread of Global COVID -19 Coronavirus pandemic which was first identified in Nepal confirmed its first and only case on 24 January 2020. The patient had been discharged with instructions to self-quarantine at home while he showed only mild symptoms. As of 16 March, Nepal tested 477 other people who reported negative for the virus.
Nepali Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, in a video conference with SAARC members initiated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and presented the preventive measures that Nepal is taking against the virus. "Our region is at high risk of COVID-19. The epidemic knows no boundary, nationality or region. We need to devise ways to combat this pandemic collectively, "said Prime Minister Oli.
Nepal government took various precautions to prevent the spread of disease in Nepal. Nepal evacuated 175 Nepalese from Hubei in February and kept at quarantine set up at the premises of the training centre of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) Bhaktapur for two weeks. They were sent home after they tested negative.
Nepal has already established health desks at the international airport and border checkpoints with India. Nepal closed down the Rasuwagadhi border with China completely halting the Nepal - China trade. In addition to this, medical personnel were deployed to various entry points along the Indo - Nepal border.
Nepal cancelled its international promotional activities 'Visit Nepal Year 2020'. The government of Nepal issued an urgent notice and announced cancelling the spring mountaineering expeditions and temporary suspension on arrival visas of 8 countries in Nepal. International flights have been cut almost every day in recent days whereas 45 to 50 international flights used to be operated daily at Tribhuvan International Airport in normal conditions. Considering the outbreak, a 70 bed hospital is going to be constructed at Chitwan Exhibition
Centre in Bharatpur Metropolitan City for treating COVID -19 cases within 72 hours in case of an outbreak of COVID -19.
The high level coordination committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ishwar Pokharel has decided to ban all passengers, including Nepalis, from entering Nepal from European Union territories, United Kingdom, West Asia, Gulf Countries, Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. It will come to an effect from March 20 midnight till April 15.
The committee has also decided to postpone the Secondary Education Examinations (SEE) until further notice. The exams were scheduled to begin on Thursday.
The government has also barred more than 25 people for assembling for cultural, social and religious activities at party palaces, temples monasteries, mosques, churches and other religious and public places. It has also urged the public to not to go out unless necessary.
The people of Nepal are scared. The WHO has already alerted Nepal about the possible risk of the spread of the virus. Yet, with the flow of Chinese tourists, there is also a high risk of transmission of the disease. On the other hand, neighboring country India is in the second transmission stage of the pandemic COVID-19. Therefore, people seem more aware and they are self-disciplined in this respect. To some extent, it is a relieving feeling that Nepal is still on the safer side as it continues to alarm the rest of the world.
Expressing deep concerns regarding the widespread Coronavirus infection, the high level committee closely observes the activities in the countries connected to Nepal and formulate necessary measures. It is therefore, Nepali media is trustworthy while most of them are following the authentic updates from Nepal government. However, sometimes credible news gets overshadowed by fake news while social media has made people content developer and publisher.