Limit exposureThe safest way is to keep celebrations and gatherings within our family and pod.
Public health guidelines were massively flouted during the Dashain holidays. Marketplaces, transportation terminals and public transportation were crowded. People travelled to and fro to celebrate the festival with family and friends, including from hotspots like the Kathmandu Valley. While we do not have a clear picture as to what extent the holidays have contributed to the surge in cases, the reality is that Covid-19 continues to spike. People continue to suffer and even die while the government lags pathetically in testing, tracing and isolating people who have contracted the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Nepal reached another grim milestone as the country’s overall Covid-19 infection tally crossed the 200,000 mark. In the past four months, we’ve seen how the surge in cases has contributed to hospitalisations and deaths since the lockdown was abruptly lifted. The situation will only deteriorate if we do not tread with caution. Tihar, Nepal’s second biggest festival, is here; and Chhath follows soon after. These two events could see huge public gatherings and contribute to a further surge.
Reports of potentially safe and effective vaccines might have us elated; but unless they arrive and all of us get inoculated, we have to understand that any interactions and celebrations outside our safe social bubble could lead to a rise in infections and tragedies. The safest way thus is to keep celebrations and gatherings within our family and pod members. We cannot defy safety protocols and further complicate our situation. It will require iron will commitment from both the government and the public to reduce the risk of transmission during the festivals.
Knowingly or unknowingly, some of us have established a pandemic pod of close friends and family, beyond which we practice safety protocols like wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, and avoiding all nonessential public interactions. This tried and tested approach to saving lives has become more important than ever before, especially during festivals, which sees an uptick in public mobility.
Epidemiologists say we should consider the possibility that every other person we meet could potentially have Covid-19. We should, therefore, be careful who we choose to interact and celebrate the festival with. The failure to assess these risks and act in adherence to safety protocols could be fatal. Let’s face it. Our broken health system is long saturated, and there is no pharmaceutical cure yet. To reduce further spread of Covid-19 and prevent ourselves from contracting the coronavirus, we do not have an option besides limiting our exposure and practising the public health guidelines.
When it comes to limiting exposure amid the pandemic, infectious disease experts and public health agencies have repeatedly recommended being mindful about the public health guidelines to prevent ourselves from contracting the coronavirus. Epidemiologists say the increase in Covid-19 cases means higher chances of contracting it, and the risks are high as we approach the winter.
If the past few months have taught us anything about the nature of the coronavirus, it is that it spreads rapidly and kills people. If we allow this trend to continue, we can expect our situation to worsen with the onset of the flu season, but our choices will determine our fight against the pandemic. Both the government and the public must do their part to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus to protect all of us and rebuild the economy.