Embolden Covid-19 responseThe onus to protect the people and keep communities safe is on the government.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the KP Oli administration’s ineptitude has contributed to the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in the country. The prime minister himself is the biggest source of misinformation. His ministers, who spearhead the Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre, have done little to make citizens feel any safer while hindering all science-backed efforts to contain the spread of the virus. As a result, new infections and fatalities from the disease continue to rise colossally.
While scientists around the world are still investigating the virus and the disease to find a vaccine or a highly effective pharmaceutical cure, the government’s indifferent attitude to what is increasingly clear of a community or a household-level outbreak is scarier and more worrying than contracting the disease itself.
The number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs and under ventilator support continues to rise; so does the number of people who are isolated or quarantined. From the very beginning, when Nepal had reported only a handful of imported cases, the government’s attitude has cost us all chances to contain the pandemic and prepare for a worst-case scenario. What awaits us now is a humanitarian disaster. If the government does nothing to spread further transmission of the virus, the suffering and fatalities, both of which are preventable, will only grow.
This utter failure of the government now reflects at the ground level, where citizens flout basic precautionary measures such as wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance. As more people contract the virus or die, the number of deniers or false optimists has also increased, mainly due to lack of risk communication. As the annual festive season inches nearer, there is an urgent need to communicate with the people about the risks amid us so that they are empowered to make careful choices that directly impact their lives.
The country needs definite and science-guided answers. People are slowly losing it with all the ad hoc decisions and misplaced priorities of the KP Oli administration. We are lucky that our fragile health system has been able to cope this far, and our fatality rates are still low as compared to other nations. But this shouldn’t relax either the government or the public. Based on the daily data by the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, epidemiologists and statisticians have presented a clear pattern of how the Covid-19 situation has accelerated in select regions of the country ever since the restrictions were lifted. While the data has been questioned time and again, it doesn’t take experts to diagnose the perilous situation we are in.
For months now, the administration has been sitting on scientific evidence and expert advice, but its actions seldom stem from scientific rationale. This must stop. We cannot continue to blow every opportunity to contain the pandemic. The government must realise that the onus to protect the people and keep communities safe is on the government.
To begin with, the country’s chief executive must correct all his unscientific claims that hamper efforts to deal with the situation. The administration must strictly enforce precautionary measures and listen to experts to plan and implement a long term response. Any decision hereon should not be a response of flight but grounded in scientific evaluation of available data and best practices. The government must study how transmission chains started and how they evolved, and also evaluate its own responses so that we have a better strategy in hand that will prevent further infections and save lives.