lockdown will be more intense in wake of rise in COVID-19 cases : CM Bhatta {interview}

२५ चैत्र २०७६, मंगलवार

Dhangadhi, April 6 : So far nine cases testing positive for coronavirus ( COVID-19) have been confirmed in Nepal and of them four are in the Sudurpashim state. Two male and one female in Kailai and Kanchanpur districts were tested positive for the virus on Sunday, raising alarming level. It has posed further challenge in the prevention and contaminant of the disease in the country, mainly in the Sudurpaschim.

Until Saturday, there were only imported COVID-19 positive cases in the country. But a 34-year-old woman of Dhangadhi was confirmed to have caught with the virus from her relative who had recently returned home from abroad and was tested positive for the virus. This is the first family/local transmission COVID-19 case in the country. Now the situation demands for taking more effective measures and strategies to control the virus from further spreading.

The Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) Sudurpaschim chief Siddharaj Bhatta and correspondent Parkash Mishra on Sunday had talked about state government preparations and strategies ahead to deal with the situation with Sudurpashim State Chief Minister Trilochan Bhatta and excerpts from the same interview are as follows: 

What are the strategies that the government has taken to prevent the COVID -19 when it has been spreading as a global pandemic?  

The state government is taking measures as per its capacity to control the spread of the virus.  These measures include establishment of quarantine centers, sending people there and medical checkup of the suspected and treatment of the infected.   We are making preparations for providing Coronavirus treatment from all nine health facilities in the state and have decided to add nine more ventilators in the state.

The data till some days ago showed that over 134,000 people entered the country via several Nepal-India border points in the Sudurpaschim state and among them, around 2,500 are in quarantine. Why remaining others were not made to stay in quarantine? 

Does this pose a health risk in the future?The people who recently entered the country in a large number via Nepal -India border points in the state were allowed to enter only after basic medical checkup and their data was collected at the time, he said, adding that the government was taking about their updates through the local governments.  The people who had been confirmed to have contracted the virus were also in the quarantine.  Arrangements are in place to immediately bring others in the Dhangadhi-based Seti State Hospital if any of them develop the coronavirus symptoms. 

            Those who are not in the quarantine centers have been urged to stay in home quarantine.  They have been under the government surveillance to find out whether or not they are following the suggestions.

What is the situation with essential medical appliances arranged in the State for prevention and cure of COVID-19? Any coordination made with the private medical hospitals for the prevention and treatment of the deadly infection? What is your response to the comments made that the normal regular patients were not availing healthcare services?

We certainly have medical appliances in the State but it may not last for a long time. Having said that, there’s no need to fret either as the federal government is routinely sending us additional medical appliances while the state government here has also called tender to procure them. 

We have already appraised the federal government about four COVID-19 patients that belong to our State and have requested to consider sending medical appliances accordingly. We have also told the private hospitals that no patients should be bereft of medication. We will take a stern action against those not providing healthcare services to normal regular patient at the time of health crisis like this.

  The private medical hospital operators have also pledged to support the government’s effort in controlling COVID-19 and render regular healthcare services to the patients at such pandemic.

The health workers treating the COVID-19 patients are protected by personal protective equipment (PPE). Do they have enough of such protective gears?

Of course we have PPE but it may not last for long. State government is working relentlessly to make sure that we tide over this crisis that has hit so many countries across the world along with Nepal. We don’t have PPE, surgical masks and sanitizers in bulk but it does not mean we dearth of them ether.

What are the measures the state government has put in place to address the inconvenience experienced by the public to avail the essential supplies such as food items during the lockdown?

I understand that although people have money, they could not buy food items from the regular places but it does not mean that they could not avail essential supplies at all. We have ensure enough of supplies of vegetables and fruits in Sudurpaschim State. Another thing is that whoever violets the lockdown and does not maintain ‘safe distancing’ will be booked.

It is said that the government is facing problems in enforcing lockdown effectively. What is the role of the State government to enforce it strictly?

          In the initial days of lockdown, the enforcement part was little flexible but as the lockdown is also extended with the increasing cases of COVID-19, we have made sure it is implemented in a hard and fast manner. Hundreds of vehicles violating the lockdown have been booked. The lockdown would be implemented more effectively as the cases of COVID-19 have risen in the State.

What measures are being taken by the State government to check black marketeering?

            The State government mechanisms will present tough against those involved in such wrongdoings during such critical time. Stern lawful actions will be taken against those found involved in defrauding people. We have also constituted monitoring teams for this. We will take action acting on the monitoring and complaints of the consumers.

Now relief distribution is taking place in an unorganized manner being also not conscious of social distancing. The health workers have expressed concern over such activities and also warned that it might increase infection. How do you manage this?

            Generally people are focusing on cheap popularity by posting their photos in the name of relief distribution. It has high risk for social transmission of virus. So, we have banned the distribution of reliefs in the name of different banners from Sunday. All should understand sensitivities during such difficult moment. If anyone wishes to render relief to the needy please come through the government channels. We request all helping hands to work in tandem with any tiers of governments. Otherwise, no individual or institution will be allowed to do so without maintaining social distancing.

There are complaints that problems surfaced due to failure of the government to track infected people?

            This is not the case. We have tracked those people who have come in contact with the infected people of Dhangadhi who returned home from Dubai. We are serious about the issue. We have been tracking the people who returned home from neighbouring India not only from their countries. Complaining that the government did not deliver is only a protest just for the sake of protest. We continue at work, let people protest.

At last, what message do you want to deliver to the people in this time of crisis?
            I want to request one and all to strictly follow lockdown. The crisis is neither invited nor simple matter.  So, all people are requested to take the situation seriously. Another matter, all should stay on alert as four infection cases have been spotted in Sudurpaschim State. It is required for members of a family who returned from outside to stay in isolation. I want to request all people of the state to be home-quarantined to stay safe from coronavirus.

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