COVID-19

Locked up in a Lockdown

Locked up in a lockdown.

Concept and original work by Gurpreet.
Copy work by Soumitra

“Just 16 days, 7 more days, 13 more days, days, days, days and some more days ” This is how Nepalese below the poverty line are enduring this lockdown with the promise of a better future. For poverty is their only crime, they are sentenced to go to bed with an empty stomach, witness their loved one’s suffering and suffer themselves. It is all downhill from here. They are waiting desperately for a miracle to uplift them from their miseries. Sadly, they will be fooled again, consoled with these false hopes of “just few more days”. (day 69 and counting)

Cases of suicide, rape, domestic violence, child marriage, death from starvation are on the rise in this lockdown. [1, 2, 3] 6 million Nepalese are below the poverty line,[4] so very few of them may survive this lockdown. A gradual rise in robbery, stealing, criminal activities would not be surprising because anything for survival, right? Furthermore, if lockdown continues, around 4000 children can die in the next 6 months.[5

These poor people and children have a better chance of survival if we open this lockdown but we risk more lives in that process, especially intelligent, educated, well off people’s lives, our valuable resources. Are we choosing which lives to save and which lives to let die?

So, what can we do?

Accelerate testing


An obvious solution to this problem is to contain the coronavirus. For that, we can learn from countries like Germany, New Zeland, South Korea, which are handling this coronavirus effectively. They prioritized testing and contact tracing. Early evidence also shows that it matters which groups receive the tests, and how often.[6] Seeing countries like the USA, UK, Russia struggle against this virus, there might be a fear that we can do very little against this virus. On the contrary, our nation’s size can be our strength.[7] While we performed only 169,632‬ tests (as on May 29, 2020),[8] South Korea performed more than 10,000 tests daily within a month and implemented aggressive contact tracing.[9] MoHP might have permitted private labs to conduct the COVID-19 test so we could speed up the testing process.[10, 11] Still, we are not able to perform as many tests as needed.

Thanks to the aggressive testing, South Korean are back to their normal routine and also preparing for the second wave of this virus.[12] If we can also accelerate testing and contain its transmission, everyone can go back to their normal lives (What’s normal, anyway?).

Open certain sectors

Lockdown is a necessary evil.[13, 14] Our health infrastructures to fight the coronavirus are under-equipped.[15] Few countries are already reopening[16] with mixed results.[17]  The Bundesliga soccer league is resumed, generally, they test the players twice a week.[18] Likewise, we can gather people depending on daily wages, set up a camp for them, isolate them in groups, test them weekly and employ them. I was happy to know Bandipur Rural Municipality in Tanahun is providing employment opportunities for people struggling to make ends meet.[19] Other municipalities can take a similar approach and open certain sectors in a controlled way while also monitoring their health.

What surprises me is our failure to learn from our past. I see nothing but the irony in the trolls where we are making fun of our Primeminister Oli’s ignorance on road construction. We forget to reflect on ourselves. That newspaper does not just go to PM KP Oli’s house/office. That road construction started at least 12 years ago.[20] What were we all patriots doing at that time? Right when those poor people, children need the most attention, they are deprived of that right too. Why are we experts at doing anything, except what is urgently required?

यस्तो चाहीँ नहोस, Lockdown सकिने, Corona सकिने अनि Lipulekको कुरा नि सधैं झैँ सेलाउने (सेलाई सक्यो कि?), अझ झन् गुमेको भूभाग नि नआउने। यो lockdownको  boredom भुलाउने खेलो मात्र नहोस्, किनभने यो खेल एकदमै महंगो छ।


There are other ways to kill this boredom without…

Almost a month ago, I persuaded my parents to ask my sister, who is a doctor, to quit her job at Kathmandu and maybe find a job back at home(Pokhara). Not because of the pay cut, because the government is struggling to provide a PPE kit. I didn’t dare to ask her to quit because I was not ready to hear her response. There are thousands and thousands of health care workers like my sister who are at high risk of exposure to CoronaVirus.[21] While it’s true, hospitals follow their safety protocols, PPEs are not going to appear magically when hospitals are going to be overwhelmed. If what I ask of my sister is wrong, then apathy towards those poor people, children or lives is a crime. It’s a sin. Negligence should not cost lives.

Those poor people, children are not privileged like us.[22, 23] They cannot complain about their suffering on Facebook, Youtube or Twitter. So, you won’t hear their cries. They will suffer and die quietly. Locked up in this lockdown. If we don’t speak for them, we are all to blame. At least 6 million lives are at stake. We can not divert attention away from them. Because every day some Malar Sada[24] or some Surya Bahadur Tamang[25] are edging to death. These are avoidable deaths. I beg all of you to speak for them, for their lives. Please.

नयाँ नयाँ मुद्दाहरु आउलान्  तर यिनीहरुको कुरा खै?

Before you draw any conclusions, ask yourself:

हजूरको जग्गा कोसैले मिचि  रछ रे, तर घरमा हजूरको बच्चा या कोइ परिवार रोगले हो कि भोकले तड़पी रछ, छट्पटी रछ? हजूर पहिला जग्गा  जोगाउन लाग्नु हुन्छ कि …? 

References:

  1. Suicide cases on the rise, mental health experts warn of a ‘grim situation’
  2. In Nepal lockdown, a domestic violence spike
  3. Child marriages up during Nepal lockdown
  4. Economic Survey 2017/18
  5. Unicef: 4,000 kids under 5 can die in Covid-19-hit Nepal in next six months
  6. How to measure your nation’s response to coronavirus
  7. When it comes to coronavirus response, superpowers may need to study smaller nations
  8. SitRep#110_COVID-19_29-05-2020_EN.pdf
  9. How South Korea prevented a coronavirus disaster—and why the battle isn’t over
  10. SITUATION OVERVIEW
  11. MoHP permits private labs to conduct COVID-19 test
  12. The big lesson from South Korea’s coronavirus response
  13. Why Social Distancing is so Important
  14. Coronavirus: The dos, don’ts, and rules of social distancing
  15. If Covid-19 cases continue to increase at current rate, Nepal’s health infrastructure could easily be overwhelmed, doctors warn
  16. These countries are reopening — here’s how they’re doing it
  17. What We Can Learn from Countries That Have Already Reopened
  18. Exclusive interview: Professor Doctor Tim Meyer on the medical concept for the Bundesliga restart
  19. A local unit in Tanahun employs locals hit hardest by lockdown in development works
  20. India began construction of controversial road 12 years ago, Nepal ‘unaware’
  21. How hospitals can protect healthcare workers from Covid-19
  22. For Nepal’s migrant and daily wage workers, lockdown is more dangerous than the coronavirus
  23. Daily wage workers at the end of their tether – The Record
  24. मलर सदाले भोकसँग लड्दालड्दै प्राण त्यागे – समाचार – कान्तिपुर समाचार
  25. भारी बोक्दै जीवन गुजारे, सडकमै… :: युनिक श्रेष्ठ

Acknowledgement:

Avnish bro explained to me the importance of testing. Also, he suggested some changes in this writing. Thank you Santosh for dedicating your 5 days to collect data, Suman bro for letting me use this art, Shital for clarifying things, Nabin, Nishan and Pravin for your help.

Spread the love

Leave a Reply