Sunday, 4 June, 2023

Fresh Call For Safety

As the daily coronavirus infection tally in Nepal has been rising faster than before for the past couple of days, the COVID-19 Crisis Management Coordination Centre (CCMC) has suggested several measures to contain the impending risks. There is a risk of remerging of a new wave of the pandemic in the country soon. Omicron, the new mutant of COVID-19, is suspected to have been responsible for the sudden increase in the number of cases. Within the 24 hours on Sunday, a total of 1,167 new infections were recorded in the country. With this figure, the COVID-19 infection rate increased to 9.5 per cent on Sunday as compared to 7.1 per cent on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP). Though the government has already started vaccinating even children aged between 12 and 17 years against the contagion, hundreds of thousands of kids are yet to be inoculated. These minors are not only at high risk of being infected but also can transmit the disease to others.

Considering this, a meeting of the CCMC held on Sunday had recommended for giving a compulsory 15-day winter vacation to all the schools nationwide beginning from January 15. Moreover, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Monday decided to close schools early from January 11. The CCMC has called on the guardians and students to receive the life-saving vaccines against the virus during the vacation period. It has also advised the MoHP and the District Immunisation Coordination Committees to manage necessary COVID jabs and start administering them as a campaign. Meanwhile, the CCMC has called for enforcing the compulsory provision for people to carry their vaccination cards or having the proof of completing the COVID-19 vaccination while visiting the public offices. Domestic flight passengers will also have to show their vaccination cards before getting boarding passes. This provision will come into force from January 17.

This rule will also apply for those who visit offices, hotels, restaurants, cinema halls, stadiums, parks and so on. They can show the proof of complete vaccination through their mobile phone or any other online system during their visit to the restricted areas and public places. To help detect people infected with the viral disease promptly and isolate them, the CCMC has recommended that the District COVID-19 Coordination Management Centre (DCCMC) coordinate to make the antigen test more effective at the entry points of Nepal. The DCCMC is also required to keep those who tested positive for the virus in isolation immediately while the MoHP needs to ensure that all the required resources are available. In addition, the CCMC has called on the government to curb the gatherings of people, mass functions and political party meetings exceeding 25 people until another notice.

With the emerging risk scenario, the CCMC has called upon the government to ease the process of purchasing required vaccines and other medicines. However, it has advised the government to conduct regular and pre-scheduled annual and semester examinations of various universities and colleges in Z-shape seat planning and strictly follow all the health safety norms. It has also suggested that everyone who will be present in the examination centres will have to wear a face mask and use hand-sanitisers mandatorily. All these recommendations will be implemented after the Cabinet’s endorsement expected soon. The authorities must monitor the situation carefully and step up even stricter measures such as smart lockdowns to help control the new surge of the virus.