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57 confirmed cases in a day 

The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) confirmed Covid19 infections in 57 people on Tuesday, which marks the highest single day rise in the country, with an additional 17 cases being reported by some media outlets. Parsa district, which is one of the worst hit districts, alone reported 39 confirmed cases in the last 24 hours, while nine cases were reported in Rupandehi, eight in Kapilvastu and one in Bara district. All confirmed cases are male and include two journalists. 

With today’s additions, the total number of confirmed Covid19 cases in Nepal has reached 191.

“There have been reports that their health condition is normal and that they are in contact with doctors,” MoHP spokesperson Samir Kumar Adhikari said in a statement. 

MoHP officials said they are still investigating the reasons behind the sudden rise, but media reports suggest that many were recent returnees from India or those in contact with them. The sharp rise in Covid19 cases comes at a time when authorities across the country have been gearing up to ease the nationwide lockdown. MoHP officials attribute the rise in cases to an increase in testing. Authorities have increased testing on possible suspects in recent days. 

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Oli expressed dissatisfaction over what he described as the concerned authorities’ failure to implement the lockdown. 

“Why are there traffic jams during lockdown?” PM Oli asked ministers during a cabinet meeting, directing them to properly enforce the lockdown. He also called for restrictions on cross-province travel. 

VP undergoes test 

Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun got tested for Covid19 on Tuesday in order to be cleared for participation in the federal parliament’s budget session. Health workers from the National Public Health Laboratory had taken Pun’s throat sample. 

The government has made health screening mandatory for all those attending the presentation of fiscal plans and programmes. President Bidya Devi Bhandari is scheduled to present policies and programmes for the upcoming fiscal year at the Federal Parliament on May 20. 

Govt’s priorities misplaced: Ex-FM Karki  

Former Finance Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki has criticised the government for undermining the impact of Covid19 on the country’s economy. Speaking during a discussion session on the principles and priorities of the upcoming budget at the parliament on Tuesday, Karki said that the government was still approaching the country’s problems in a conventional manner, ignoring the impact of Covid19. Warning about a possible economic collapse, Oli said that the government will prioritise sectors severely affected by the Covid19 lockdown. 

He also criticised the government for failing to complete the construction of long pending projects like Melamchi Drinking Water Project. 

“This is the third budget of this government, but most national pride projects are in a sorry state,” Karki said.

Nurses lauded 

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli lauded the contribution of nurses in the fight against Covid19 on Tuesday.

“I extend best wishes to the nurses who are providing service on the frontline in the battle against Covid19 pandemic,” PM Oli tweeted on the occasion of International Nurses Day. 

In a separate press statement, other high level officials, including Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and Health Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal, also expressed gratitude to nurses for their selfless service to the nation.

Nurses are on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus, often working under multiple constraints. On Tuesday, a nurse even tested positive for the virus. 

UP to assist Nepali migrants 

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said that his government is ready to make necessary arrangements to repatriate Nepali migrants living or stranded in the state. In a twitter message, CM Yogi said that his government would provide necessary support to those willing to stay as well as those planning to leave.  

UP, the most populous state in India, is home to hundreds of thousands of Nepali students and labourers, and is one of the worst affected states in India. Several workers returning from other India states are also stranded in UP due to the lockdown and the refusal of Nepali authorities to allow them safe passage. CM Yogi said that he has instructed authorities to arrange for transport facilities for their smooth return home. So far, the Nepal government has prevented returnees from entering the country, with around 3,000 currently stuck at the border. 

Hospital fined for overcharging 

The Commerce Department has slapped a fine of NPR 250,000 on the Thamel-based Manomohan Memorial Hospital for charging exorbitant service fees from patients. The department, which raided the hospital following complaints from patients, fined the hospital after it was found charging an unfair amount for ultrasound USG service. 

The department has also sought a written explanation from Norvik International Hospital for alleged overcharging of various tests and services. Norvic is one of the most expensive hospitals in the Capital, with comparatively higher fees for checkups and tests. 

FNJ appeals journalists for precaution 

The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has demanded immediate PCR checkups for journalists working in the field in the districts most affected by coronavirus infections. FNJ’s statement comes following the confirmation of Covid19 in two journalists in Birgunj on Tuesday. 

FNJ has also called on media houses to provide necessary medical gear to journalists.

“At this critical hour, journalists who work despite limited resources and under many difficulties need to be more serious and vigilant,” FNJ said in a statement, while urging journalists to be vigilant.