“We had no choice, people have lost their livelihoods and life has become really difficult for people, that is why we had to relax the restriction,” says Kathmandu district chief Dhundi Niraula. “But we are hoping that everyone will take the virus seriously and adopt precautions.”
This does not convince public health experts like Baburam Marasini, who says the official figures for infections and deaths are grossly underestimated, and that the virus is still spreading in the community.
“Maybe it is easier to get beds in hospitals and oxygen now, but this does not mean things are normal,” he says. “In fact, even if the lockdown has been relaxed, we have to keep on behaving as if we are in lockdown, and not venture out unless absolutely necessary, and when we do to mask up and maintain distance.”
However, going by the crowds in Kathmandu markets and the increased traffic at major intersections on Tuesday, it did not look like people were taking the precautions very seriously. Most other districts except Khotang and Morang are loosening their restrictions, following Kathmandu’s example. But increased inter-district movement will make it easier for the virus to spread.
Warns Bastola: “You have protected yourself for more than a year, why do you want to risk your life now?”
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