“The municipality has not sent medical professionals or security people,” says Bishnuprasad Kharel, a teacher who has to monitors the school’s quarantine. “Those in isolation could escape if they wanted to, and that would pose a risk to the community.”
Kharel also says the lack of support from the municipality has forced people to take matters into their own hands. “We have no expertise in quarantine management and we lack logistical support from the municipality,” he adds.
In the same municipality, Rudrawati Primary School is isolating 10 returnees from India and faces the same problems of lack of water and proper toilets. Returnees are forced to sleep on the floor and get their own provisions. None of those quarantined has been medically checked.
There is also a shortage of health workers, with none available in the 91 quarantine centres and one municipal isolation ward in Musikot. Mayor Somnath Sapkota says: “We requested the provincial government to provide one MBBS-qualified doctor, but have received no response so far.”
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As India relaxes its lockdown, tens of thousands more Nepalis have been arriving at the border every day and many of them will finding their way up to Gulmi and Baglung – two districts with some of the highest outmigration rates in Nepal.
Sunil Rana made an arduous journey from Gurgaon in India to the Nepal border and after waiting there many days arrived in Musikot only to be quarantined in a local school. “I never got a health check anywhere along the way, and I have still not been tested,” he says.
This month alone, 393 people have arrived in Musikot from India after crossing the border at Sunauli. In the month before that there were 374 from India and 33 from overseas via Kathmandu airport. With a new wave of one thousand people expected to arrive from India in Gulmi in the coming week, the district is just not prepared to deal with the numbers.