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The total number of Covid19 cases in Nepal reached 102 on Friday after the confirmation of a new case in Nepalgunj. A 16-year-old was tested positive for the novel coronavirus during PCR testing and cross verification at Bheri Hospital, according to the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP). The person is said to belong to a family exposed to the virus.
The health ministry has expedited testing in the hotspots of Birgunj, Udayapur and Nepalgunj. MoHP officials said that a joint team of epidemiologists and Nepal Army health workers have been deployed in all three locations to collect around 3,000 samples.
As of Friday, a total of 74 men and 28 women have tested positive for the virus. Of these, 31 have recovered.
The National Public Health Laboratory has said that everyone at the parliament, including 275 parliamentarians screened for Covid19, have tested negative for the virus. Health workers had collected 441 samples from the parliament on Thursday.
“All samples collected from the parliament yesterday have come back negative,” said Rojnath Pandey, a spokesperson for the laboratory.
On Friday, health workers collected samples from 271 people including 54 parliamentarians and their staff. They could not be tested on Thursday due to the shortage of testing kits.
Pressure is mounting on the Oli government to bring stranded migrants home with many lawmakers joining calls for repatriation. Most parliamentarians who addressed the parliament during the opening of the budget session on Friday urged the government to bring the migrants without further delays while asking authorities to make necessary preparations to quarantine them.
Nepali migrants stuck in India and other countries across the world have been pleading with the government to repatriate them. The Supreme Court and National Human Rights Commission have also directed the government to evacuate those willing to return home.
Covid19 infections have been spreading rapidly among migrant workers in the Gulf, home to around 1.5 million Nepalis. In a statement released earlier this week, the Non Resident Nepali Association confirmed that a total of 23,00 Nepali workers in the Gulf were infected.
Chief justice Cholendra Shumsher JBR Rana has cited the need for a separate jurisprudence for “pandemic justice”. In a statement issued on occasion of the Law Day, CJ Rana said on Friday that the pandemic was affecting proceedings of the courts and preventing a speedy delivery of justice. The district and appeal courts have halted proceedings while the Supreme Court has been hearing only important cases since the lockdown began on 24 March. Some legal experts have been campaigning for remote hearings in view of possible violations of rights in times of crisis.
Opposition parties have demanded the resignation of prime minister KP Sharma Oli, stating that he has lost political and moral grounds to rule. Speaking at the parliament on Friday, Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba said that the government has lost credibility and the right to rule due to allegations of corruption, kidnapping and political manoeuvring. He called immediate action against those involved in the alleged corruption in the Covid19 medical kit procurement deal and the kidnapping of Janata Samajwadi Party MP Surendra Yadav. Deuba also took a stab at the government for mishandling the Covid19 crisis and neglecting migrants stuck at home and abroad. Former prime minister Baburam Bhattarai also suggested Oli to resign.
Janata Samajwadi Party leader Rajendra Mahato criticised the government for engaging in political manoeuvring at a time of grave crisis. He accused Oli of trying to take advantage of the crisis in order to consolidate power, while doing little to prevent people and businesses suffering from the economic meltdown caused by the pandemic.
“What is the purpose of the government if it can't help people in need? Did people vote to suffer?” Mahato said.
However, most leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party were all in praise of the government. NCP leader Subash Nembang said that timely measures taken by the government helped curb the spread of the virus and avoid death.
Six people, including a deputy superintendent of the Nepal Police, were injured on Friday following clashes between the police and Chinese tourists who were protesting outside Singha Durbar asking to be returned to China. The clash ensued after a group of around 40 tourists refused the police’s request to move away from the restricted zone outside Singha Durbar’s main gate where they were staging a sit-in with placards that read “we want to go back home” and “we have no money”.
According to the police, two protesters were injured in the clash. All protesters have since been taken into custody. Officials said they will be handed over to the Chinese embassy.
The police arrested 2,040 people on Friday for defying restrictions on public movement. The flow of people has started to increase in recent days owing largely to mixed messages from authorities. The police also arrested 560 public vehicles plying the streets without permission, but were allowed to go after being issued a warning.
Despite the lockdown, the government has announced its intention to relax restrictions on the operation of some necessary services. Several private companies have started to call their staff to resume duty. More than 100,000 people have been arrested for defying the lockdown since Nepal mandated that people stay indoors to curb the spread of the virus.
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