Supermarkets roll out delivery service for valley residents confined to their homesState-owned Food Management and Trading Company is also readying to start home delivery of groceries, officials say.
Privately owned retail chains like Bhat Bhateni Supermarket, Salesberry and Big Mart have started home delivery of essentials.
Customers can place orders through WhatsApp or Viber using the mobile numbers of the supermarkets, officials said.
With high chances of the government extending the lockdown, home delivery of essential goods will be vital for Kathmandu residents who are staying home to stop the possible spread of Covid-19.
Bhat Bhateni Supermarket, which began providing home delivery service on Friday, receives 1,500-2,000 orders daily, said Sabin Byanjankar, sales manager at the Tripureshwor outlet. The supermarket aims to serve 1,000 households daily, he said.
“Demand is growing by 20-25 percent daily,” said Byanjankar. Bhat Bhateni has a fleet of 30 vans to deliver goods, he added. Consumers can pay by cash or card, and the supermarket is not taking any delivery or service charges, according to him.
Byanjankar added that the supermarket had a seven-month stock of essential goods. It offers delivery services to all places in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. Bhat Bhateni's nine outlets in the valley are currently shuttered.
Big Mart is using the Daraz platform to bring essential goods to the homes of the people of Kathmandu, said Bibek Dev, finance head at Big mart. “We will have a soft launch tomorrow and start making deliveries accordingly,” he said.
Customers can order Big Mart goods through Daraz, and make card, cash or online payment.
Salesberry started its home delivery service on Thursday. It currently receives 500-600 orders daily and fulfils 100-150 orders, said chief operating officer Chet Narayan Poudel.
“We started the service in haste without adequate preparations, that is why we are utilising the available resources to make home deliveries,” he said.
The supermarket offers its delivery service in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Pokhara. Customers can pay by cash, card or Fonepay mobile payment network, Poudel said.
State-owned Food Management and Trading Company is readying to roll out home delivery of groceries, considering the sharp rise in the number of customers asking for the service with the country in lockdown and free movement on the streets banned.
Shri Maniraj Khanal, deputy general manager of the public enterprise, said that a technical team was developing an app to allow customers to place orders online.
Khanal said they held talks with the software people on Friday. “We are planning to start home delivery service in two-three days,” he added.
And in order to enable online payment, the company is working to link the payment system with banks, Khanal said. “We are doing our best to launch the app; but in a situation like this, it is taking a little more time as we are not being able to work efficiently,” he said.
Once the app is released, consumers can place their orders through it and pay for their purchases online.
According to Khanal, the company will be utilising the resources at hand to make deliveries to the customers' doorsteps. The company has two delivery vans and plans to deploy the available manpower for now, he added.
The state-owned company's sales outlets are open from 10 am to 3 pm; but due to the lockdown, very few people come to shop there, he said.
Currently, the company maintains shops at Ramshah Path, Thapathali, Nakkhu and Bhaktapur. Another shop is slated to open at Jawalakhel this week, he said. “Compared to privately owned stores, we are open longer; but we get very few customers,” he said.
According to him, there are adequate supplies of daily goods, and consumers should not worry about shortages. The company's inventory of daily essentials like rice, lentils and legumes totals 26,000 tonnes. Moreover, we are purchasing 10,000 tonnes of rice from India, he said.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of June 2, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. Covid-19 had spread to 213 countries and infected more than 6,321,836 people with 375,657 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 198,140 with 5,608 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 72,460 confirmed cases with 1,543 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 2,099 cases with eight deaths.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.