Court issues interim order to rescue workers stranded abroadAt least 20,000 Nepalis stranded in various Indian states wish to return home.
The Supreme Court has issued an interim order directing the government to rescue migrant workers stranded in vulnerable conditions and to ensure WHO standard health services based on the situation.
The court does not explicitly talk about the Nepalis stuck at border points but lawyers say the interim order was meant for them as the government is under fire for not allowing them to return home.
Responding to a writ filed by advocate Shom Prasad Luitel, a single bench of Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla on Thursday asked the government for necessary homework to rescue the stranded Nepalis.
Luitel had demanded an interim order to the government to rescue all the migrant workers stranded abroad and also to bring all those stuck at border points without hindrance to Nepal and keep them in quarantine.
The government on Wednesday decided to evacuate Nepalis working in Afghanistan for the United Nations following the UN request but has not taken any move for evacuating those living in other countries.
At least 20,000 Nepalis wishing to come home and be with their families have been caught in the lockdown and are unable to return home. On Saturday, at least 800 Nepalis from various parts of India flocked to the Nepal-India border in Darchula but due to the lockdown in both countries, they have been forced to stay on the Indian side without provisions of shelter and food.
“The government should prepare a report on the health status of migrant workers in the countries affected by coronavirus and ensure they receive WHO standard health service without discrimination and rescue those who are at high risk ensuring the individual rights of citizens and taking the interest of the larger population into consideration,” states the interim order.
“Not only their mental and physical health, the government’s indifference would put those dependent on the migrant workers at risk.”
The KP Sharma Oli government has come under fire, including from his own party supporters, for leaving Nepali migrants high and dry during the pandemic.
Thousands of Nepalis working in India, most of them doing menial jobs, have been put out of work in the wake of the lockdown in India.
The Indian government has extended its lockdown period to May 3 to stop the spread of coronavirus, severely affecting tens of thousands of daily wage workers, including Nepalis, who are now scrambling to get back to their homes.
India and Nepal have agreed to take care of and feed each other’s citizens stranded on the border until the crossings between the two countries are opened.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of May 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. Covid-19 had spread to 213 countries and infected more than 6,047,908 people with 368,758 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 173,763 with 4,971 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 66,457 confirmed cases with 1,395 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 1401 cases with six 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.