People with disabilities who depend on daily income suffer due to nationwide lockdownThey don’t get relief from municipalities because they don’t have local IDs.
Every time the government announces an extension to the nationwide lockdown, 29-year-old Kapil BK’s worries deepen. The visually impaired man from Doti, lives with his son and mother.
“My wife, who is not blind, eloped with another man eight months ago leaving a four-year-old son with me,” said Kapil BK, 29, who is visually impaired. “My mother came from the village to look after him. I had been feeding them selling incense sticks door to door, but now I am confined into my cold and damp room,” said BK.
BK is not the only person with disabilities suffering due to the coronavirus lockdown, which has already been in force for 17 days. The 2011 census shows that around 23,549 people with disabilities live in Kathmandu. The National Federation of the Disabled estimates that 50 percent of them depend on their daily income to make their ends meet.
“I don’t have money. More than my life, I am concerned about my son,” said BK, 29, who lives in a rented room in Bhaktapur. “The municipality hasn’t given us anything, as they say aid is reserved only for people native to the area,” BK, who is surviving on flattened rice told the Post.
The story of Kusam Chaudhari, 26, and Nischal Magar, 27, both of whom are blind is similar. The residents of Dang, who now live in Kathmandu, tied the knot just a week before the nationwide lockdown.
“We are good singers, and we thought we could easily run our life singing on the road,” said the couple. But with the lockdown, they have run out of money to buy food. “The ward office has not given us a relief card, we have nothing to eat, except a sack of rice we received from the Nepal Blind Association two weeks ago.”
“It’s been two weeks we are eating salt rice without vegetables,”said Chaudhari.
She said her parents have been asking her to return home, but she can’t even do that due to the lockdown. “Life has become very stressful and complicated for us,” said Chaudhari.
Sudarsan Subedi, former president of the Federation, said the lockdown has hit disabled people who depend on their daily income hard.
“The disabled people have identity cards, but they are not issued from in the area where they reside,” said Subedi. “That is why they are not getting essential relief items from the local government,” said Subedi.
Devi Parajuli, a rehabilitation therapist for people with disabilities, said the lockdown and the fear of transmission of coronavirus have created immense anxiety and psychological problems among people with disabilities in the lower economic strata.
“People with disabilities have to depend upon others,” said Parajuli. “For example, blind people and people with hearing difficulties have to rely on others even for information on coronavirus,” said Parajuli.
She said that the society needs to do more to help people with disabilities who are bearing the brunt of the lockdown. “I request everyone to motivate and help the people living with any kind of disabilities, because they are suffering really hard,” said Parajuli.
Meanwhile, BK and his family chew the last remaining packet of flattened rice. They need to ration it so that they have at least something to eat tomorrow.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of May 27, 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 210 countries and infected more than 5,684,795 people with 352,225 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 150,793 with 4,344 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 57,705 confirmed cases with 1,197 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 772 cases with four 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.