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Prime minister KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday said that Nepal remains highly susceptible to the spread of Covid19 for the next two weeks. During a televised address to the nation on Tuesday, PM Oli urged people to support the government’s effort to prevent and control the pandemic by staying indoors.
PM Oli said that his government was doing everything to contain the novel strain of coronavirus that has been detected in nine people in the country as of Tuesday. He said that the government was coordinating with federal and local governments to set up quarantine facilities, quarantine suspected cases and to equip local health agencies.
Oli spent much of his address hitting back at his critics whom he accused of using moments of crisis to smear the government’s reputation. He suggested that the allegations of corruption were also part of the smear campaign.
Oli’s address to the nation comes at a time when the government is facing all out attacks from the opposition over its treatment of a thousands of migrants stuck at the Nepal-India border, the alleged corruption in the procurement of Covid19 kits from India, and its latest decision to procure through the Nepal Army. Despite his defence of the government’s activities, Oli has come under criticism from senior leaders of his own party over poor handling of this unprecedented health crisis.
The government has decided to extend an existing ban on international flights until 30 April. All international flights, except for cargo and evacuation, were suspended on 23 March. Following a meeting of a high level Covid19 task force, the PM’s office secretary, Narayan Prasad Bidari, told reporters on Tuesday that the suspension was extended taking into consideration the rapid spread of Covid19 across the world. He said that the government would soon take a decision regarding resumption of domestic flights. Officials fear that the resumption of international flights may trigger a mass return of Nepali migrants and students from Malaysia, the Gulf and European countries.
The National Examination Board on Tuesday decided to defer, indefinitely, the board examinations of grades 11 and 12 because of the Covid19 pandemic. In an officially issued statement, the NEB said that it would fix new dates after analyzing the Covid19 situation. Examinations for grade 12 were scheduled to begin on 20 April while the grade 11 exams were planned to begin from 4 May. Earlier, the Secondary Education Examination Board had postponed grade 10 examination citing the global pandemic.
The Nepali Congress, the main opposition party in the federal parliament and in six of the seven provinces, has accused the government of not doing enough for the prevention and control of Covid19 despite having ample time to do so.
In a statement issued after the party’s central working committee meeting on Tuesday, the party appealed to the government to increase testing to avoid a possible public health crisis from erupting due to the local transmission of the coronavirus. The party has said that it is ready to support the government in all possible ways. Expressing concerns over reports of corruption in the procurement of Covid19 kits and medical gears, the party has demanded unconditional dismissal of the officials involved in the scam, including deputy prime minister Ishwar Pokhrel.
The police on Tuesday arrested a renowned business Sulav Agrawal, vice chairman of Shanker Group, for his alleged involvement in the black marketeering of thermal guns, a device used to measure temperature, which has been in high demand since the start of the Covid19 outbreak.
In a statement, the police said that Agrawal was caught red-handed while selling thermal guns at Rs 15,000 apiece in Kathmandu. The device costs Rs 5000 a piece in the market. Police have also confiscated 67 units of Chinese-made thermal guns from Agrawal.
The Ministry of Health and Population has traced more than 90 percent of the people who were in contact with the nine patients diagnosed with Covid19 across the country. Speaking at a regular press conference on Tuesday, MoHP spokesperson Bikash Devkota said that authorities were searching for the remaining people who may have been in contact with the nine.
“Everyone who was exposed to confirmed Covid19 patients will be quarantined to prevent a possible spread,” Devkota said.
He also said that authorities are closely monitoring 172 people with high risk of infection. Since Monday, the government has been conducting Covid19 tests from ten health facilities across the country.
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