By Indira Aryal Bhaktapur, Aug. 19: Residents of Madhyapur Thimi Municipality on Sunday woke up to empty roads and deserted public places, including temples and rest houses, as the local government imposed a strict lockdown after the cases of COVID-19 continued to surge in the Kathmandu Valley. All public transportation services, shops, government and private offices, banks and other commercial institutions, except those providing essential services, have remained closed from Sunday. Madan Sundar Shrestha, Mayor of the Madhyapur Thimi Municipality, said that they were compelled to impose a strict lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19 and protect locals from virus infection. Along with suspending the operation public transportation, all services in nine wards of the municipality have been closed down from Saturday until August 25. Sailendra Amatya, a local in his 80s, said that he had never seen this kind of strict regulation before. “I have survived many epidemics before but being locked inside the house is my first ever experience,” he added. Likewise, Shiva Tamang of Sindhupalchwok, who was working in a carpet industry at Bapamahadev area, said he returned from the village a month ago seeing the improved situation of the Valley. He had left the Valley on March 30, almost a week after the government imposed the nationwide lockdown, and stayed there for almost four months. “Staying back home meant nowhere to go, no work, zero income and a lot of suffering. Thus, I returned to the Valley to continue my work,” he said. “As a strict lockdown has been imposed in my area and the cases of virus infection are on the rise, I have been facing a lot of hardships.” Mayor Shrestha stated that the decision was taken following the increase in cases of the novel coronavirus infection within the municipal area. “If we don’t act now, we will see a far worse situation soon,” he said. Local bodies, volunteers and police personnel have been mobilised to spread awareness among the people. They have been making announcements twice a day in all wards to make people alert about the threat of the novel coronavirus and to appeal them to stay indoors. On Monday alone, five people, including a nurse of the Korea-Nepal Municipality Friendship Hospital, were diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 infection. All services, except emergency ones, were suspended in the hospital after COVID-19 cases were found in the hospital. “As the number of coronavirus infected people is increasing in the city, we have decided to disallow people to exit the Valley,” said Mayor Shrestha. As of Monday, as many as 140 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Bhaktapur. The decision to impose a strict lockdown was made at a meeting of the Disaster Management Committee of the Municipality on Saturday after coronavirus cases started to increase in the Valley.