Locals protest in Tatopani against the opening of the borderThe locals allege that the border is being used to conduct business activities by allowing the entry of goods other than essential materials.
Locals in Tatopani protested on Wednesday to oppose the opening of the Tatopani border point. The locals allege that the border point is being used to conduct business activities by allowing the entry of goods other than essential materials.
On Tuesday, a meeting held among the chief district officer of Sindhupalchok and customs and security officials of Nepal and China decided to grant vehicle passes to 20 individuals to import food grains and essential medical supplies.
Raj Kumar Paudel, chairman at Bhotekoshi Rural Municipality, said the locals started the protest because the officials made the decision without the presence of people’s representatives.
“Locals have been protesting after it came to light that vehicles have been granted permission to import fruits and garlic, among other items, by the authorities,” said Paudel.
On March 25, a high-level coordination committee for the prevention and control of Covid-19, headed by Defense Minister Ishwar Pokharel, had decided to reopen the Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi border points to ensure the smooth supply of essential goods, including medicines and medical equipment, from the northern neighbour.
Both border points have remained closed since late January to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus, which was first detected in Wuhan of Hubei Province of China in late 2019.
On April 8, the country received medical goods from China in the first delivery through the reopened Tatopani border. A private company, BM Trading, brought 7,500 pieces of N-95 masks and around 300 litres of sanitisers.
But Paudel said locals have been questioning the government’s intentions since the people’s representatives were not invited to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
However, Chief District Officer Umesh Kumar Dhakal said the meeting was for the government officials, including security and customs officials of both Nepal and China. “There was no presence of the representatives of the local governments from both countries. The protest is being done only to create disputes,” said Dhakal, informing that only essential food grains and medical supplies will be imported from the border point.
The 2015 earthquakes had massively destroyed roads and infrastructure at the Tatopani border point, and since then it had remained closed, forcing almost all traders to conduct trade with China via the Rasuwagadhi border point.
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.