Rolpa locals, people’s representatives decry the federal government’s indifference in handling Covid-19 in the districtWhile the people’s representatives say they haven’t received help from federal and provincial governments, locals say they are not satisfied with the local units’ efforts.
With the nationwide lockdown extended until April 7, local units in Rolpa have scrambled to adopt measures to keep the novel coronavirus disease from spreading, but representatives and locals say they doubt if those measures would suffice without help from the federal government.
All of the district’s ten local units have called meetings over the week and have established funds to control the contingent spread of the disease. They are establishing quarantine facilities and using loudspeakers to raise awareness among the people about the disease.
Chief of Sunchhahari Rural Municipality Aash Bahadur Pun Magar said in the past three days, he has visited all of the local unit’s six wards and has taken stock of how people are reacting to the pandemic. “I have visited several villages in the local unit, have shared my knowledge about the disease, and asked them not to worry,” he said.
Magar further said that people are still to get serious about the disease. “Many people are stigmatised by the disease,” he said. “Many of those who have recently returned from foreign countries have yet to come forward to stay in quarantine facilities.”
Chief Balaram Budhamagar of Runtigadhi Rural Municipality said that the local unit has allocated a fund of Rs3million for campaigns against coronavirus and has established a makeshift hospital and quarantine facility. Like in several other local units, Runtigadhi has also established a health desk and recommended those who suffer from fever and cough to visit it, Budhamagar said.
Mayor Purna KC of Liwang, the district headquarters, said the number of people coming to the municipality from abroad since the spread of Covid-19 has reached 89, all of whom would be quarantined.
But despite these well-meaning efforts from the local units, there are obstacles, say local unit representatives and locals. Nimakanta Dangi, chief of Paribartan Rural Municipality, said that the health officials in the local unit lack personal protection equipment (PPE) and have corresponded with the federal government asking to provide them.
Other local unit representatives say even though they are running efforts against the disease, they are confused about how to move forward.
“If the provincial and federal government had given us a definite modality about how to proceed, it would have been easier for us,” Aash Bahadur Pun, chief of Sunchhahari Rural Municipality, said. “But we haven’t received any guidelines.”
Bir Bahadur Khatri, chief of Gangadev Rural Municipality, echoed Pun. “This is a time when the federal government and lawmakers should have been serious about how villages are responding to the impending crisis,” he said. “But we haven’t heard from them yet while health workers in villages lack protective gears and equipment.”
While the people’s representatives say they haven’t received help from federal and provincial governments, locals say they are not satisfied with the local units’ efforts. “The local units have yet to quarantine people who have returned from abroad,” said Khem Budhamagar, a rights activist.
The district administration has yet to take account of the returnees while the police estimate the number might be around 10,000.