Nepal Update - CoronaVirus Crisis Situation:
As of today 3rd May, a total of 75 infected cases were tested positive out of about 13,414 PCR tests done. Rapid (RDT) tests are done nearly 50,000 in different parts of the country. Of the total, 1 case was from January and the rest is from the last 6 weeks. Until now 16 patients are recovered and discharged from the different hospitals. Luckily, there is no death so far. Suspected 77 patients are kept in isolation and nearly 22,000 people are in quarantined in different parts of Nepal.
Compared to other South Asian countries and elsewhere in the world, there is no widespread outbreak yet in Nepal. It may be due to timely control measures – LockDown and Social Distancing from the government and public alike.
Today is the 41st day of LockDown and is effective till 7th May. The life in all major cities like, Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan, Nepalganj, Biratnagar etc. are stand still. There is no scarcity of daily supplies as neighborhood small shops are open for a certain hours a day and also some departmental stores are opening in the same way. Passenger transport is banned but, transport of essential supplies is allowed on the road. All boarder posts are closed and so are airports till 15th May.
Hard Hit Poor People:
People in general appreciate this LockDown measure to stop the COVID-19 outbreak as it has been effective to contain the spread of the virus. However, the poor people who are daily wage earners are hard hit and they have started facing problem of hand to mouth some time after the LockDown started. Also blue color job holders mostly from the rural villages who are living in big cities are also badly affected.
The people with low incomes who are living on rental rooms/flats in cities did not feel safe and wanted to go to their respective village homes. So, they tried to leave the cities in mass exodus walking hundreds of kilometers for days. Those with little children faced really big hardships having to walk many days some times 500 Km plus continuously on foot. It is heart breaking scene to see photos in the newspapers, the parents walking on the trail with little children on their backs. Many ran out of money and had nothing to eat on the way. Some local people arranged hot meals for them at some points along the trail and road. Some local governments are giving some food packets to the needy but, that seems just random and disorganized.
The government seemed bit confused about how to manage such exodus of people going to different villages. They neither could stop them nor arranged transportation to their destinations. Some rural local municipalities hired trucks/buses to rescue them and transport to their villages.
Affect in Tourism:
More than 10,500 foreign tourists stranded are flown back to their respective countries by charter flights organized by different foreign embassies in the last weeks. Few who are still in different parts of Nepal are learnt to be staying here by their own choice. Qatar Airways flew with 303 European passengers mostly expats out of Kathmandu yesterday, 2nd May. Most hotels and restaurants are close. Obviously, tourism activities are stand still. As all scheduled flights are suspended, different airlines operating from/to Kathmandu airport have also suspended their operation. For flight booking purpose, the following table with different flight suspension dates may be informative.
Photo courtsey; Kantipur newspaper