You pointed to the need for vigilance before New Year. District administration offices have just started to enforce restrictions. Why it was not implemented on time?
Our effort has been on not to impose nationwide lockdown if possible taking into account its impact on our economy. We tried to find an alternative but the public didn’t take the latest surge seriously despite the government’s repeated appeal to follow safety measures.
Both political parties and communities are responsible for the second wave. I request everyone to adhere to health standards.
Why did the government then impose a lockdown for 15 days?
If the number of active cases in hill and mountain districts exceed 200 and 500 in urban centres, the Chief District Officer may issue a restraining order in those areas on the recommendation of the District Covid-19 Crisis Management Center (DCMC).
It takes at least 10 to 14 days to break the chain of the infection, which is why we have placed prohibitory order for two weeks.
Will we have lockdown for an extended period like last year?
Not if everyone follows the order. But if people neglect it, I can’t say how long it will last.
What has the government done to prevent rapid community spread as it happened last year when Nepali migrants from India returned home?
We have arranged to send returnee Nepalis home after antigen tests. Foreign nationals must have a negative PCR test to enter Nepal either via road or air. Everyone must quarantine.
We have received over 3 million doses of vaccines from India and China. One million doses of Covishield from Serum Institute of India that you paid for haven’t arrived. What is holding things up?
Only a small number of vaccines have been approved for use and we lack storage infrastructure for some of those shots. So we have limited options and the Department of Drug Administration has approved some vaccines accordingly. After the initial donation from India, we even bought 2 million doses of Covishield from the Serum Institute.
We then offered to buy 5 million more. But the local agent here in Nepal of the manufacturing company asked for 10% in commission, forcing us to step back. The involvement of middlemen, who were also present when we bought the vaccine for $4 per dose complicated the procurement for 27 days. By then, infections began to soar in India and thre were restrictions on export.