It is difficult to believe that there are more than 7000 plus people who have been infected by corona virus in Nepal. I still remember the time when the first positive COVID-19 case was found. We were terrified. But now it’s 7000 plus. It is more than three months of lockdown where we have been staying in self-quarantine. Before 2020, the word ‘quarantine’ used to remind of pets in cages at border control.
However, in the past three months quarantine has become a buzzword that has splashed over the front page. The Nepal government has quarantined more than hundreds of people who arrived to their hometown. They are traced in the border area and sent them to quarantine spaces set-up in various places by local government whether it be school, health facilities, open areas or community building.
After government declared the lockdown in March, people are finding it difficult to stay at home despite any income. I think the implementation of lockdown is not well managed by government. Government applied a blanket approach which is not applicable for all the citizens. I have heard and even seen people struggling to manage food for their family. According to the news post in Rising Nepal: among 30 million people in Nepal, almost 25 percent are living below the poverty line; on 50 cents per day which makes the nation one of the poorest in the world.
The pandemic has created an environment where people are confined in their home and not able to earn for their living. The situation is even worse among the people who survive in daily wages. I support government for implementing strict rules during lockdown. But there is not point on extending lockdown without any strategic plan. Government has ignored and many times neglected the demand of its citizen to mitigate the issues of poverty during lockdown. People will not think right if they or their family members are hungry.
I come from rural Nepal and here people are suffering from hunger than Corona Virus. I am a youth reporter and I am reporting impact of COVID-19 on young girls. Recently, I had interviewed government official who is in-charge of one of the quarantine centre in areas. The returnees from India are kept in isolation in the centres. In conversation with her, she shared the quarantine facility is providing enough care to the people who are mostly migrant workers. They travelled to Nepal through the boarder. But my experience is much different than what she shared with me during our interview.
Firstly school is converted into quarantine. The place was not clear and people in the quarantine were not wearing masks and they are not maintaining social distances. Imagine! The situation is really critical and government has not taken any steps. People are dying in the quarantine where they are supposed to get tested for COVID-19 and control mass infection. Again this is creating rumors, stigma and discrimination among the people who have been quarantine for safety. This is also increasing mental health issues among the people in quarantine as well as among their family members. The mental health issues is alarming. Number of suicidal cases are increasing day by day during lockdown.
I have a question to our government whether they have allocated stress management sessions or therapists in all our quarantine. People in quarantine have rights to get all the health facilities they require. As a young girl, I am disturbed to see the poor status of the quarantine spaces and the management team being ignorant. The government is only focused on COVID-19 response whereas it has completely forgotten issues related to Gender Based Violence, Sexual and Reproductive Health services, mental health issues, poverty and many more.