Control the spreadTo break the chain of spread requires a concerted effort of the authorities and the entire community.
When the Omicron variant was detected in Southern Africa in November 2021, authorities worldwide took the news seriously since not much was known about the effects of this new variant of concern. Experts and the media were quick to highlight the devastating consequences that may be unleashed if precaution wasn’t to be exercised. And before countries acted on the available information to restrict movement from high-risk zones, Omicron had already spread right around the world. Perhaps, Nepal still seemed oblivious of the effects and carried on with life as usual.
But the speed at which Omicron has spread worldwide and the effects becoming gradually more apparent has now caught the attention of the authorities here in Nepal, too—especially after the newly elected chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) tested positive for Covid-19 on January 8. So, what do the authorities have up their sleeves to counter the effects of the pandemic this time around? Apart from wearing masks, albeit sometimes as chin support rather than facial covering, people in Nepal have had a lax attitude concerning Covid-19 protocols. But neither has the government taken any severe steps to push for any effective measures to contain the spread of the virus.
Since Dahal tested positive to Covid-19, many of the leaders he has interacted with have been self-isolating, including the prime minister. In principle, the idea of contact tracing is pretty simple; identifying people who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. It is easier when the cases are high-profile and only limited to a few individuals. If one constructs a link of those exposed to those infected, the list could prove unmanageable without a protocol.
And it is just that the authorities have been pottering with the idea of contact tracing for many months inconclusively. Unfortunately, the officials at the centre and the provinces only resorted to squabbling rather than taking concrete steps to get the process started. And for this reason, we have always been on the back foot in this regard. And to break the chain of spread requires a concerted effort of not just the authorities but the entire community to collaborate with the authorities in making sure that we can successfully break the chain of spread.
The stigmatised view concerning Covid-19 that plagued the society in the past should be discarded entirely, and individuals at least must play their part in notifying others in the event of them contracting Covid. With the number of cases increasing rapidly in India and movement along the porous border largely unobstructed, efforts should be directed to increase the levels of testing and effectively contact and trace the individuals who test positive for Covid-19. After all, what is there to show for digital awareness in a country if we cannot use technology to overcome the problems that overwhelm us.