Lockdown measures gradually loosen up in Province 5 with no Covid-19 positive case detected so farEven though the province has zero cases so far, the risk is still high, given many districts in the province share borders with India.
As of Friday, Province 5 has tested over 3,000 individuals for Covid-19 and has reported no positive cases. Out of the 3,000 tests, 2,874 were done with rapid diagnostic testing kits and 298 via Polymerase Chain Reaction method. The province has yet to test about 6,500 individuals currently quarantined across its districts.
As the province has not reported any positive cases, authorities are gradually loosening the lockdown. Five days ago, Butwal Sub Metropolitan City had decided to allow grocery stores, vegetable and fruit stalls and medical clinics, among others, to open from 8am to 5pm.
Many people who arrived in Butwal this week were also sent to their native villages by Rupandehi’s local units, albeit without proper testing. This has led Butwal locals to worry about the spread of the viral disease and question the sub-metropolis’ monitoring.
“There are more people on the streets these days,” Durgadutta Ghimire, a local of Kalikanagar, said. “At this rate, we are afraid that there might be an outbreak of the disease. Social-distancing rings in front of shops have wiped out, even though the crowd gathering outside has swelled.”
Moreover, the sub-metropolis has not monitored the vehicles carrying daily essentials from India. The vehicle drivers and their helpers are allowed into the country after a simple temperature test.
“Local units and security authorities should pay attention to regulate the movement of people and be extra cautious in the border area, as the risk of the disease’s spread is still high,” said Binod Kumar Giri, health director of Province 5. “We have failed to maintain enough precautions.”
The situation is similar in Nepalgunj and Kohalpur, two other cities in Province 5 with a high density of population. In Nepalgunj, essential shops are allowed to open from 6am to 3pm while social-distancing regulations have been relaxed.
Meanwhile, in Dang, Tulsipur sub-metropolis has allowed essential shops to open for only three days a week in the morning, according to Mayor Ghanashyam Pandey.
“The risk has barely subsided,” Pandey said. “So we are still adopting strict measures.”
Even though the province has reported no cases so far, the risk is still high given many districts in the province share borders with India, said Sudarshan Baral, the province minister of social development. The province has set up four corona-specific hospitals and three labs to fight the disease.
“We are in no way relaxing the lockdown as the risk still runs high,” he said. Acting Police Chief of the province Naresh KC echoed Baral, saying the lockdown is still in place.
“We are punishing those who defy the lockdown and urge everyone to stay inside their homes, as the risk is still high,” he said.