By Gopal Khanal (KATHMANDU, 23 July 2020)- The nationwide lockdown, which was imposed on 24 March to fight against COVID-19, ended on 21 July, after 120 days. The end of lockdown should not be considered as the end of the coronavirus pandemic and its threat to Nepal. Some restrictions are still in place as the risk of the pandemic is yet to fully come to an end.
Two seemingly opposite thoughts having the commonality that is return and resumption of normal lives of the people have eased the government to announce such relaxation. The two major priorities of the country now are to completely control the COVID-19 and declare the country as coronavirus free and to revive the shattered economy.
While making public the cabinet decision, the government spokesperson, Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada, who is also the Finance Minister, reiterated the two facets of the current crisis and the transitional policies to tackle them. Coronavirus is the reality and none can escape from this pandemic. In this sense, the government has taken the right approach – the approach to living with the coronavirus and resumption of the economic activities. Though the volume of economic transaction will be tremendously lower, it will create a ray of hope among the people and will strengthen them psychologically.
In nutshell, Nepal has entered a re-energised, self-confident and self-assured phase of the fight against the pandemic.
When the coronavirus was first seen in Wuhan of China in late last December, the globe was totally unknown on how to tackle the new virus. The timely decision of the Chinese government to impose lockdown to limit the virus in the epicentre was a major step to control the pandemic. The government of China had requested the world to fight the new pandemic jointly but the global powers paid no heed towards that call. Instead, China was later blamed as if it created the virus understandably to weaken her Western rivals.
As a result of the strong law and order situation in China, the government’s directives were followed by the people. China proved to be powerful at the very adverse situation while the superpower and developed nations were failing even to provide the basic treatments to the infected people. It reminds us of the situation of economic recession in 2008 in which, China experienced the least impact while the western economies were badly shaken. This pandemic has created a similar situation.
China has almost restored its domestic economy and now trying to resume her international trade though not fully due to this abnormal situation. But world powers like the USA and UK are still stuck in domestic politics.
US President Donald Trump’s whole concentration is on the November presidential election. For this, he has been trying to create the electoral issues based on jingoism. He has been deliberately attacking China by raising diverse issues placing extreme nationalism at the top. Trump’s political orientation is fundamentally the rightist conservative that believes in protectionism and nationalism. The ban of China’s Huawei electronic products in the USA and Europe, the planned strategic aggression in the South China Sea and the augmented move of seeking the allies in the Asia are the Trump’s electoral agenda. He has completely failed in the fight against COVID-19.
Compared to Western countries, Nepal’s fight against COVID-19 is better. The best thing about the virus in Nepal is that there was no local transmission. The initial cases were found among those who had returned to Nepal from abroad. The second categories were the people entering Nepal through the land route, especially from India.
Despite limited resources, medics and equipment, Nepal’s war against the pandemic has been a model for the world. Some sections of people still blame the government saying the response was poor but it can never be proved. The Oli-led government is successful to meet the COVID-19 challenges.
Pandemics have posed serious challenges to human civilisation. They appear in certain interval and disappear with big human casualties and economic losses. One thing is sure such pandemic will be there till the existence of human being. We cannot block the road of the pandemic, but we can change ourselves. The COVID-19’s cost of human lives cannot be compared with the opportunities it will have for human beings.
Nepali people should still follow the social distancing and use masks while visiting public places. Moreover, they should also change their food habit stay sound psychologically. Proper physical exercise, healthy diet and positive thinking can help boost our immune system. Prime Minister Oli has given some tips, which are useful in everyday lives.