CONDITIONS OF COVID-19 IN NEPAL
Written by: Archana Ghimire Edited by: Pralhad Gupta
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been the headline for news portals all over the world in recent months. The outbreak appeared in Wuhan, China, for the first time, and it spread worldwide overwhelmingly. The virus's outbreak was nearly inevitable, and even the developed and prosperous countries failed to defend it. However, very few cases have been reported in Nepal than in other countries despite being a landlocked neighbor to China and the fact that China is the second-largest trading partner of Nepal. But those cases were more than enough to create chaos in a small underdeveloped and least prepared country like Nepal.
According to the data published by the Ministry of Health and Population, as of June 26, 2020, 11755 total positive cases were detected, 9030 patients were kept in isolation, 71012 people were quarantined, 2698 were discharged, and 27 people died of Coronavirus. Two testing methods were used for diagnosis i.e., RT-PCR and RDT. The RT-PCR test diagnosed 206271, and the RDT test diagnosed 290349.
Twenty-two laboratories are responsible for the RT-PCR test. Still, only four of them, namely, Teku Hospital, Nepal Police Hospital, Patan Hospital, and Tribhuvan University Hospital, can treat the positively tested patients after the diagnosis. The treatment of the COVID 19 virus is free of cost if anyone is confirmed positive. However, the government hasn't been able to perform tests for every suspected patient due to the limited number of testing kits and isolation beds in the hospitals and because of the higher number of suspected patients. Also, the RDT test is still in use for making clinical decisions, although the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests not to.
Safety precautions were applied across the country to prevent the transmission of the virus. People evacuated from outside the country were quarantined for about two weeks until the test results were confirmed. After the test, those who tested negative were sent home, whereas the rest were isolated. A lockdown was announced restricting people in any movement and mass gathering except for emergency and performing chores in an allocated time with caution.
Many startups in Nepal have remained closed due to the pandemic. Even if the lockdown comes to an end, resuming the businesses or establishing new firms will be a challenge. Loss of employment is the immediate and direct impact that can be seen from the surface. Many daily wage workers have lost their jobs. Hence the daily livelihood of thousands of workers has been heartbreaking.
However, the Government of Nepal has decided to change the modality of lockdown and has agreed to ease prohibition in specific sectors. Agriculture and animal-related businesses, food stores, development projects such as hydropower, construction activities, and so forth are allowed to open and continue their operations. Restaurants are only allowed to arrange for takeaway services. Private vehicles are acknowledged on the street on an odd-even basis. Odd license plates are allowed out on odd dates.
In contrast, even license plates are allowed out on even. Simultaneously, educational institutions, training centers, sports centers, public transportation, malls and cinemas, international and domestic flights (except those receiving permission), and religious and social places will remain shut. The government declared suspension of all regular classes and academic examinations were postponed until further notice. This resulted in a tremendous increase in the use of social sites such as Zoom, Google Meet, Google Classroom, Moodle, etc. by many educational institutions and organizations for conducting group meetings. This pandemic had also brought some positive changes among the Nepalese youths bringing them together, demanding to stop the RDT test and ensure 100% RT-PCR test, among others. This is the first time Nepalese youth came out to protest against the government, where no political party was involved. The government has taken it into account and will look forward to making amends in the current trend.
After this pandemic gets over, it is essential to uplift the socio-economic condition, and livelihood should be recovered immediately. It is an urge to bridge the economic gap until the economy of the country stabilizes.
With the outbreak of COVID-19, many research students, such as myself, are advised to stay at home and follow work from home routine. Initially, it was a real struggle for me to work from home. The lack of resources and motivation often makes us uncomfortable and unstable at home, holding us back from working at our fullest caliber. I have been trying to write a review paper more recently, but I'm still not having my way. Often, I try to convince myself that this situation will be over very soon, but it seems like there is a long way until the end.
Nevertheless, to cope with this pandemic, I started to make a flexible plan and follow some rituals which ease me to keep my day busy, joyful, fruitful, and positive. This habit aids me a lot to keep myself in a relaxed mood. Enjoying every day in a different pattern has helped me to stay productive without getting bored.
I am passionate about knowing about the current affairs of my country. I follow some secure online news portals to study the updates. However, the flow of the same information time and again can be too much, sometimes though it is reasonable to get the majority of news related to COVID-19 across social media. As a result, sometimes, we get surrounded by dark thoughts, and we need to revitalize our mental health against feelings of helplessness and boredom. I spend some virtual happy hours with friends and relatives via phone and video calls. Virtual hugs and kisses showing deep affection and care could mean a lot at the moment, and more so, it's a privilege to be around with our family and grandparents during this particular moment. I'm always excited to listen to their stories with the combined recipe of struggle, failure, hard work, dedication, and success leading to ultimate happiness.
Enjoying virtual communication (Research Center for Eco-environmental Sciences family)
Involving in rituals at home with grandparents
I try to boost my immune system by eating healthy, maintaining adequate sleep hours, exercising, and relaxing and practicing mindfulness. I spend some time gardening and watering plants. We have varieties of flowers, seasonal vegetables in our house yard. I love to stay in the fresh air for a while during the evening.
Avoiding the crowd, we buy essential groceries for about a month from the nearby supermarket. While going out in the street, I found out that most of all people are concerned about safety measures. People are wearing masks and gloves while walking in the street by maintaining social distance. Even though it's a hard time, people are tinged with the hope that everything will be okay very soon.
Measures being taken to avoid the transmission of Covid-19
From a personal perspective, I feel like Covid-19 is not such a horrible thing after all. It's a holiday but of a different kind. It's time to think and contemplate our future endeavors. It's a little signal from the planet earth to humankind that we need to use the resources wisely. It's a signal to stay, resist, and fight together. It's a portrayal of life being a blessing. And after everything becomes routine, there is no doubt we're going to enjoy experiences with more colors. There will be one another toast added during the festivals, celebrations, and gatherings: "Cheers to our life on earth!”
Stay healthy with positive thoughts. PEACE!!!
Article by: Archana Ghimire
(i) Ratna Ghimire
(ii) Tista Prasai Joshi
(iii) Navesh Chitrakar
(iv) Pritam Maharjan