Thousands of security personnel enforce lockdown across countryThe personnel are manning border points, patrolling roads and markets to ensure that people don’t come out on the streets during the lockdown.
Thousands of security personnel were deployed across the country on Tuesday to enforce the first day of government-announced week-long lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The personnel are manning border points, patrolling roads and markets to ensure that people don’t come out on the streets during the lockdown, which was announced on Monday by the deputy prime minister-led Covid-19 Prevention and Control Coordination Committee.
The meeting had decided not to allow members of the public to come out of their homes, except in case of an emergency until March 31.
“Thousands of Nepal Army, Nepal Police, and Armed Police Force personnel have been deployed across the country for the effective implementation of the decision [lockdown],” said Deputy Inspector General Shailesh Thapa Kshetri, spokesperson for Nepal Police.
The personnel are deployed at entry points, main roads, markets, and they are patrolling different places, said Kshetri. “Officials in civil clothes have also been mobilised to check black marketeering.”
Although the government announced that anyone defying the lockdown order would be charged under the Infectious Disease Control Act, police said they haven’t used the provision yet. Police are sending people who show up on the road back home after talking to them about the risk of a virus outbreak.
“Many people seemed to follow the government order. The number of people on the streets was very low,” said Deputy Superintendent, Hobindra Bogati, spokesperson for Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range. “Although few people were found violating the order, they too returned home.”
According to the Act, those found defying the lockdown order can be jailed for a month and/or fined Rs 100. “However, we haven’t had to take such action. Everything is normal till now,” he said.
Although major roads and highways across the country wore a deserted look, things were different in the villages.
Ajay Khatri, 24, of Kathmandu, who returned to his village Thanpal Dhap in Sindhupalchok after the government decided to halt public transport, said the population of his village has increased in the past few days. Most people who were in the cities for various purposes returned home, but they are not following government instructions.
“People are busy doing their regular work and there’s no one to inform them about a possible coronavirus outbreak and its consequences,” said Khatri. “We haven’t seen any police official come to this area,” he added.
Similarly, 23 year-old Bharat Thapa, who returned to his home in Dhanusa, said people were not taking the virus threat seriously. “People are gathering and going about their lives like before,” said Thapa. “Many even don’t have an idea about quarantine. Very few policemen have been seen on the streets.”
However, Kshetri said people were complying with the lockdown order. and enough security personnel have been mobilised to keep people home. “Our personnel are conducting awareness programmes by using miking systems to spread information about the virus,” said Kshetri. “We have enough personnel in the field.”
Meanwhile, as a large number of personnel have been mobilised across the country, Nepal Police Headquarter has directed every police station to take safety precautions to prevent the spread of the contagious virus.
According to Kshetri, personnel have been provided face masks and sanitisers. “We have already made them aware of the situation. We have also arranged quarantine and isolation beds for our personnel if anyone gets infected while discharging their duties.”
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of March 31, 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. As of Wednesday, Covid-19 had spread to 199 countries and infected more than 8,07,705 people with 39,456 deaths. In South Asia, Pakistan has reported the highest number of infections at 1,865 with 25 deaths. While India has reported 1,251 confirmed cases with 32 deaths. Nepal has so far reported five cases, in which one patient recovered.
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.