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A joint meeting of the District Covid 19 Crisis Management Center (DCCMC), which comprises the chief district officers (CDOs), mayors, and security agencies of Kathmandu Valley, has recommended that the government extend the existing prohibitory protocols by a week. 

The current prohibitory orders, issued by the valley’s three districts–Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhakatapur–end Wednesday midnight. The ongoing measures ordered by the authorities effectively imposed a weeklong valley-wide lockdown, which felt almost like a curfew.

On Tuesday, after reaching a common understanding on extending the lockdown, DCCMC members went over to their line ministry, the Ministry of Home Affairs, to discuss the issue before the ministry could make the final call on the issue. Home Ministry officials privy to the development said the prohibitory orders will be extended by a week for now.

“Although imposing or extending a prohibitory order largely falls under the jurisdiction of District Administration Offices, the CDOs suggested the extension to the ministry today,” said Premlal Lamichhane, information officer at the MoHA. “The prohibitory orders will thus be extended by a week.” 

Lamichhane said the decision will be made public before the existing prohibitory orders end. 

The lockdown, however, did not serve any purpose other than to confine the public to their homes. The authorities never bothered to explain to the public why the decision to implement the lockdown was taken. They have also not told the public how much progress they made during the lockdown. Over the weeklong lockdown, the local bodies have not been able to set up a Case Investigation and Contact Tracing (CICT) team in the Capital, let alone isolation centres. Medical experts have been repeatedly requesting the government to contain the spread by properly tracing the contacts of infected persons. But the government continues to focus solely on testing.

Consequently, the number of infections has continued to rise. On Tuesday alone, Kathmandu Valley recorded 232 new cases: 199 in Kathmandu, 19 in Lalitpur, and 14 in Bhaktapur. With the new cases, the number of infected in Kathmandu Valley has reached 3,486. Of those, Kathmandu recorded 2,756 infected cases; Lalitpur, 444; and Bhaktapur, 286, according to the Ministry of Health and Population. 

In almost nine months, the government has not come up with any effective measure to combat the crisis. It has merely been adopting the same old technique–clamping a lockdown. 

It’s not surprising that the DCCMC is facing problems in tackling the disease–given that it does not have specialists or experts. The team comprises administrators, security personnel, and politicians. Further, Health Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal does not like taking suggestions from experts. Some experts even say that the government body has no full understanding of the disease. 

The recent prohibitory orders halted all government services other than essential ones and barred the mobility of people. But the government still has not calculated the costs of such disruptions. Daily wage earners–perhaps the most vulnerable demographic–have been hit the hardest. However, the government has never thought of creating a relief package for them and for others affected by its measures. 

Nor has it been able to tamp down the increase in caseloads and casualties. With 855 new cases detected in the past 24 hours, Nepal has a total of 33,533 infected cases now. Seven people died on Tuesday, taking the overall death toll to 164.