It was December 2019, and world was gearing up for a brand new decade. The most worrying things in most people’s minds were the climate crisis and Trumpism.
The 2020s were expected to be a harbinger of new hopes and beginnings. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, throwing the world upside down, sowing uncertainty, loss and panic across the world.
Nepal recorded its first Covid-19 case on 23 January from a male student who had returned from Wuhan, and was infected ten days previously. Now, almost a year later, the numbers are nearing 260,000 and the death toll has crossed 1,750.
The government response has been characterised by flip-flopping policies, contradictory rules and lack of coordination. Political leaders and the bureaucracy were wrapped up in the power struggle in the ruling party that lasted the whole year, and led to the dissolution of the Lower House this week.
The government promptly established the Covid-19 Crisis Management Committee (CCMC) after the second Covid-19 case was detected, and Nepal was one of the first countries in the region to go into strict nationwide lockdown.
“We panicked before time and when it was time to act, the people have given up fighting Covid, when they should be even more vigilant now,” public health expert Sher Bahadur Pun told Nepali Times, warning about the virus variants that could make the pandemic spread even faster.
Pun adds: “The government had ample time to learn from China, Europe and other countries to curb the spread of the virus, but it lacked the commitment and resources. Because of this, things could get worse.”