Keep celebrations smallProtecting ourselves is the biggest responsibility we have in our hands right now.
With Covid-19 cases rising and killing people, epidemiologists and infectious disease experts expect a further spike in new infections as Nepalis start to plan for three big festivals. They fear that the festival season, along with the build-up to the fall and winter seasons, could be super spreader events, primarily because of large gatherings, mostly indoors. These serious concerns over public mobility and interactions, despite a drastic drop in traffic compared to the regular holiday season, must not be ignored. Protecting ourselves is the biggest responsibility we have in our hands right now.
Given the critical phase of the pandemic, precautionary measures like wearing a new mask and hand washing along with physical distancing are now more important than ever before. It is hence crucial that we are mindful of these primary defence mechanisms against the virus and keep celebrations small. Public health agencies and infectious disease experts have advised against any celebrations outside the household, and avoiding all non-essential movement and gatherings. Special attention must be paid to the elderly since they are at a higher risk.
Nepal is now at a precarious point. Our fragile healthcare system collapsed long before the country even hit the 25,000 mark of active cases. Owing to the shortage of hospital beds, more than half of the active cases are currently home isolated or quarantined, with little or no professional medical attention. The government’s patchwork of responses has made controlling the spread of the virus more challenging than ever as transmission rates, especially in the Kathmandu Valley, rise colossally.
It is a difficult time, no doubt, but there’s no telling how worse it could get if we do not make careful and hard choices this festival season. There is no vaccine yet, and there is no pharmaceutical cure either. While contracting Covid-19 will bring immense suffering and financial burdens, and could even result in death, we as a society need to understand that there is nothing more precious than our lives, without which celebrations would cease to have any meaning. The pandemic is not going to be over anytime soon, and the best we can do right now is to contain the situation.
Considering the situation we are in and the challenging year for all of us, we have to calculate our risks and make careful choices that will help protect ourselves, our family, friends and communities. Threats of virus spread during festival celebrations run high. Hence, we need to be mindful of the several factors that can contribute to the risk of getting infected or infecting others. Just like we adapted to drastic changes in our lives, in the way we work or socialise, we are now looking at a festival season unlike any we’ve seen before. In the lack of government-imposed strategies to break the chain of transmission of the virus, civic sense despite pandemic fatigue must prevail this festival season.
Let’s keep the celebrations small and be safe than sorry.