At a time when close coordination between government ministries and various agencies under the Health Ministry is of the utmost importance to manage the pandemic, the committee set up to coordinate is itself working at cross-purposes with them.
The Covid-19 Crisis Management Committee (CCMC) and the Ministry of Health are at loggerheads, consumed by turf battles, questions of responsibility, and lately blaming each other for the dramatic spread of Covid-19 across Nepal, especially in Kathmandu Valley.
On Friday, the country recorded 4,499 new infections, taking the total confirmed cases to 153,008. Of these, 2,720 were in Kathmandu Valley. With 17 more deaths, the total fatalities now stands at 829. There are nearly 50,000 active cases, and the numbers needing ICU treatment and ventilators continue to rise.
Patients in ambulances have been turned back because hospitals in Kathmandu have run out of space. Meanwhile, the CCMC is in limbo after its head Ishwar Pokhrel was transferred out of the defence ministry. No one is clear about who is in charge.
Pokhrel had a public run-in with the Nepal Army chief Purna Chandra Thapa over the CCMC dragging the military into controversy over questionable contracts for the import of medical equipment and kits.
The CCMC’s communication with the Health Ministry is now non-existent, and this is sowing confusion about pandemic response at a time when the country is in a health emergency as medical facilities are overwhelmed.
“The Health Ministry has stopped consulting or taking orders from the CCMC,” said a ministry source.
Nepal’s capital has now become its coronavirus capital as well, and the ministry has not been doing evidence-based planning to manage hospital facilities to handle the growing number of cases. It ignored data on hotspots within Kathmandu and to order testing and tracing there.
According to the maps released by the CCMC large clusters of cases have been detected in Chabahil, Maitidevi, Bansbari, Sinamangal, New Baneswor, Naya Bazaar, Narayan Toll, Kalanki, Bagbazar and Balaju in Kathmandu.