The coronavirus barometer of the Himalayan Nation has surged high in recent days with the number of cases reaching 86,823 on October 4. Nepal on Sunday overtook China in the number of infections which has reported 85,450 cases amid speculation that the toll could be higher.
Nepal on Sunday alone logged 2,253 new cases with 1,329 cases of recoveries and seven deaths. Out of new cases, Kathmandu Valley alone contributed 1,373 new cases while Lalitpur registered 187 and Bhaktapur 39 new cases of coronavirus.
Despite the increasing number of cases, the buzz in the market and roads in Kathmandu is as normal as before. Social distancing, stisation and other basic health protocols issued by the government are flaunted by shoppers who are all in a festive mood to celebrate the upcoming festival of Dashain.
As Kathmandu is the epicentre, contributing over 50 to 70 per cent of daily infection reported around the nation, people are worried about a possible lockdown.
"Lockdown already has crippled our condition. We should think of alternatives like maintaining distance, avoiding crowds, always wear a mask and adopt other safety measures to protect own self which would really work and control the contagion. If the lockdown is imposed again then people would have to embrace difficult situations like that of before, the lockdown will further worsen the situation," Rajesh, one of the shoppers who came to IndraChowk area which is one of the oldest markets in Kathmandu, told .
Out of 12,784 samples tested using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method 17.62 per cent of the samples tested positive for the virus. Capital Kathmandu alone has active cases of 10,663 while Bhaktapur hosts 1,010 and Lalitpur hosts 1,412.
Brimming market and cases
Stock clearance sales are the most common phenomenon in the market with the arrival of the festive season. The 15-day long Dashain festival starts after mid of October followed by the second largest festival of Tihar, which comes in the fortnight of Dashain.
People have flocked to the markets that are relentless and carefree about basic health protocols and safety measures that should be adopted to prevent infection. Despite the brimming market and onset for business shoppers possibly could be the means of increased infection.
"We faced lockdown for a long period of time and it is not the only solution. People themselves should be aware of it when it comes to discussion about social distancing and stisation. The crowd in the market has increased. Some people even don't care to wear masks. Steps undertaken by the government on one side and awareness of people on the other side could help in controlling contagion," another shopper Namrata Bya said.
Nepal recently ended the seven months-long restrictions imposed to contain the virus infection which was dominant in the Southern Plains of the Himalayan Nation, now eventually turning to capital Kathmandu.
Within a month of relaxation of lockdown imposed by the Central government, Chief Administrative Officers of the valley went on for a three-week restriction which was claimed to help prevent infection. All failed as the government could not increase the rate of tests and efficient contact tracing.
Kathmandu Valley- Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur Districts in the last one week reported a total of 6,862 cases of coronavirus which has continued to peak every week. Contagion is now being reported amongst political figures along with the public creating immense surprise and worries.
On Saturday four advisors of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli along with a dozen guards stationed at PM residence tested positive for virus creating pc and surprise among people.
Outbound travellers can act as a super spreader
Festive mood gripped people soon after the relaxation of lockdown and restrictions by the Centre. With long haul vehicles in operation, thousands of people are expected to leave hotspot Kathmandu for their home town.
Keeping in mind the risk of further escalation of virus infection throughout the nation, the Ministry of Health and Population on Sunday requested people to celebrate Dashain in current residence rather than travelling out of the valley.
"Dashain is approaching, so it is requested to all to celebrate the festival in the current place of residence. Dashain comes next year too and this year's Dashain it is appealed to be celebrated in incumbent location," said Dr Jageshwor Gautam, Spokesperson for Ministry of Health and Population in a daily press briefing.
Nepal first had confirmed the virus infection in early February after suspecting a Wuhan returnee Nepali student in January of contracting virus. It went into a nationwide lockdown from the end of March. Since then the number of cases has increased significantly.
A total of 27,019 cases have been detected after the three district administration offices in Kathmandu Valley imposed prohibitory orders starting from August 19 midnight.
The nation saw 68,829 infections and 495 deaths since July 22. There were 17,994 cases and 40 COVID-19 related deaths until July 21 when the government decided to end the nationwide lockdown after four months.
( With inputs from ANI )
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