Deuba demands fair probe into alleged corruption in Covid-19 responseOpposition leader also suggests that the government make health equipment, essential medicines, enough isolation wards and ventilators ready as the threat of the contagion rises.
The main opposition party has demanded an investigation into alleged irregularities and corruption in the procurement of medical kits and protective gear.
Putting forth his suggestions at a meeting called by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba said the government should stop protecting the people involved in corruption and irregularities.
The government’s decision in March to award the Omni Business Corporate International a deal to procure medical kits and protective gear had courted controversy for not following public procurement rules. Questions had also been raised over the quality of the equipment procured by Omni. However, no investigation was carried out in this matter.
As cases of Covid-19 increase sharply, Oli on Tuesday held a consultation with the leaders of the opposition parties and experts from various fields to seek suggestions on what containment measures the government should take.
Deuba also demanded a fair assessment of the government’s weaknesses in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. Making public the list of demands by Deuba, party’s chief secretary Krishna Prasad Poudel said the main opposition has also demanded performing 100,000 polymerase chain reaction tests in each province and a complete halt to rapid diagnostic tests.
Deuba also alerted the government to make health equipment, essential medicines, enough isolation wards and ventilators ready as the threat of the coronavirus contagion rises.
Oli had told the meeting that the Covid-19 pandemic cannot be controlled by the government alone. The tendency to take the crisis as an opportunity to attack the government should be stopped, he said. “The government was criticised for imposing a lockdown. Now it is facing attacks for easing it.”
“The decision on enforcing the lockdown or easing it can be taken after evaluating the situation of virus spread in the community,” Ram Saran Bajagain, media expert at the prime minister’s office, quoted Oli as saying.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of September 22, 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 has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 31,405,983 people with 967,505 deaths and 22,990,260 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,557,573 with 88,943 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 306,304 confirmed cases with 6,420 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 65,276 cases with 427 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.