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Deuba urges govt to open border for stranded Nepalis

Nepali Congress president Sher Bahadur Deuba has urged the government to give safe passage to Nepali migrant workers stuck at various border points with India. Speaking with a group of journalists sympathetic to the party on Wednesday, Deuba said that the government should allow them to enter the country after making necessary arrangements to quarantine them.

Deuba’s remarks come a day after the Supreme Court, responding to a writ petition, directed the government to allow entry to all Nepalis stuck at the border citing their constitutional rights.

On a different note, Deuba reemphasized the importance of ensuring transparency in the procurement of Covid19 related kits by the government. Earlier, on Tuesday, NC had asked the government to dismiss all those involved in the alleged corruption around the procurement of medical kits from China through agents.

Life vs liberty debate stirs social media 

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli found himself at the receiving end of social media ridicule and rage over his request to the people to choose between life and individual liberty. During his televised address to the nation on Tuesday, PM Oli had raised many eyebrows by alluding to the contentious debate around life versus liberty in the backdrop of the Covid19 pandemic.

Many social media users, including politicians, have questioned the rationale behind asking people to make such a choice. Nepali Congress MP Gagan Thapa said the statement was uncalled for, arguing that both life and liberty were equally important for people. He also raised questions over all eleven claims made by Oli during the address to the nation.

Nepal Army, APF hospitals to be used for emergency  

The Nepal Army Hospital and the Armed Police Force will now offer treatment for Covid19, according to the Ministry of Health and Population. Speaking at a daily press conference, MoHP spokesperson Bikash Devkota said both the Nepal Army and APF had agreed to open their hospitals for Covid19 treatment on the ministry’s request.

“Both hospitals are ready to take patients at any time,” Devkota told reporters, adding that the hospitals would be used only in case of a possible outbreak.

In a different context, Devkota said that the ministry has traced and collected blood samples from all who were in contact with the nine Covid19 patients diagnosed so far.

Nepal Army initiates process for G-to-G procurement 

The Nepal Army, which is handling the Covid19 medical kits procurement process, has written to five countries through government-to-government channels.  According to NA spokesperson Bigyanraj Pandey, NA, through the channel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has sent letters to China, South Korea, Singapore, Israel and India, asking for supplies of essential medical equipment.

The Nepal Army became involved in the procurement process after the MoHP revoked its contract with Omni Business Corporate International, the private firm earlier selected for supplying medical equipment. The contract was annulled following allegations of a skewed bidding process and the exorbitantly high price quoted for nearly all items.

Shortage of blood in hospitals

Hospitals across the country have started facing blood shortage as the country enters into the third week of the coronavirus lockdown, according to reports. Kantipur daily, on Wednesday, reported that the shortage of blood was affecting the treatment of emergency cases. In recent weeks, several organizations and tech startups like Pathao have been creating a roster of donors in order to increase the stock in blood banks for emergencies.

More arrests for defying lockdown 

The police, on Wednesday, arrested 2,685 people in Kathmandu for defying the lockdown. An increasing number of people are venturing out in the public for various reasons as the lockdown enters into the third week. According to police spokesperson Umesh Raj Joshi, the arrests were made between 6am to 5pm but that a majority of violators were allowed to go after warnings and minor disciplining. 

Meanwhile, there has also been an increase in the number of people fleeing the Valley out of desperation. Some daily wage labourers have been taking up to four days by foot to reach their homes, according to media reports.