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453 Covid19 cases 

The total number of Covid19 cases in Nepal reached 453 on Thursday with the confirmation of 26 new cases. The infected are from Rupandehi, Jhapa, Sunsari, Dharan and Dhankuta. During a daily press briefing, Bikash Devkota, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), said that the cases were confirmed based on PCR tests of throat swabs in Dharan, Biratnagar and Kathmandu. He confirmed that all the new patients are in good health and under medical supervision. 

Following the confirmation, local authorities have started contact tracing and testing suspected cases. Of the total number of infected, 383 have been men and 70 women.

Third Covid19 death 

Nepal confirmed the third case of Covid19 related death on Thursday. The deceased was a 41-year-old teacher from Gulmi receiving treatment at the Crimson Hospital in Butwal, according to Devkota. The confirmation comes a day after some news outlets spread false rumours about this death. 

Devkota had ascertained then that the man was receiving treatment for coronavirus under ventilator support.

Issuing a statement shortly after his death, social development minister of Province 5, Sudarshan Baral, said that the man’s death was an irreparable loss for the province’s education sector. According to media reports, family members of the deceased have blamed the hospital’s negligence for his death. 

NC criticises govt’s priorities for upcoming budget

The Nepali Congress (NC) has concluded that the government’s policies and programmes for the fiscal year 2077-78 are inadequate in addressing the wide range of problems the nation currently faces. Issuing a statement after a meeting of the party’s policy wing on Thursday, NC leader Purshottam Dahal said that the policies and programmes have failed to lay out a clear roadmap to tackle the Covid19 pandemic, revive the economy as well as repatriate workers and provide them employment. 

“The problem of unemployment will worsen in the coming year as the policies lack concrete plans for important sectors, including agriculture, tourism, industry, health and education,” reads the statement. 

NC has urged the government to be guided by data and research while allocating the budget. Suspecting that a bloated budget might be in the offing, the party also urged the government to be mindful of its spending. The government has consistently failed to spend its budget due to red tape. 

The meeting called on the government to do more to tackle the impact of Covid19 on the economy as well as on vulnerable groups, including women and children. 

Hotels may be used for quarantine 

The government is considering the possibility of using hotels as quarantine facilities as authorities intensify consultations to bring Nepali workers stranded in various work destinations. During a meeting held at his office, State Minister for Urban Development Rambir Manandhar said that the government may use hotels and resorts across the country as quarantine facilities if necessary. He said that the government would pay hotels for mass accommodation. 

The use of hotels as quarantine centres is likely to prove helpful for hoteliers who have already announced shutting down for six months due to the meltdown of the tourism industry. 

Following pressure from various quarters, the government has reluctantly started preparation to repatriate stranded Nepali migrants. Exact data is unavailable, some estimates suggest that up to a third of 2.5 million Nepali migrants could return from more than 110 work destinations.  

Seasonal migrants arrive from India

More seasonal migrants have started returning from India with the resumption of railway services in India. On Thursday, more than 1,000 people arrived at Bheri Ganga Municipality, the gateway to Karnali province. A similar number of people have arrived at Gauriphanta, a border point in Kailali district, of which authorities took in more than 800 on Wednesday.  

There has been a significant surge in the number of people returning to Nepal since India resumed its railway service. While some have been stopped at bordering towns in India or admitted to quarantine facilities set up by Nepali authorities, local authorities suspect that many others may have entered, avoiding the eyes of the cross-border security forces.

The government has estimated that around 400,000 seasonal migrant workers may return from India in the coming weeks. A rise in the number of migrants crossing the porous border without the knowledge of the authorities has also increased. Several local bodies at the border, including metropolitan cities like Birgunj and Nepalgunj, have started arranging passage for workers back to their villages after a basic health screening, while people showing Covid19 symptoms are being quarantined and monitored until further confirmation. 

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