Nepal To Expand Scope Of Coronavirus Test: Foreign Minister Gyawali

Nepal To Expand Scope Of Coronavirus Test: Foreign Minister Gyawali

March 30, 2020, 6:58 p.m.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali expressed confidence over the effectiveness of the several measures and steps that the government has put in place in time to check the pandemic outbreak.

He said that international arrival has been stopped before this as well as an entry from across the border has also been checked, adding that the government looks forward to the support from people and the local level. Stating that it’s time for local levels to prove their mettle and relevance, the Foreign Minister said leaders of the society and community should coordinate in an appropriate manner.

“To this date, the infection has not spread to the community and limited to the foreign returnees,” said Minister Gyawali.

In an exclusive interview with a team from the Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) comprising Executive Chair Shyamal Adhikari, Chief Editor Shyam Rimal and correspondent Prakash Silwal at his office, Minister Gyawali said that the report is that migrant Nepali workers have so far faced no significant problem due to the pandemic.

Minister Gyawali mentioned that local levels have developed quarantine and it is the responsibility of all to come together at this time of crisis. Stating that the government has brought the equipment provided by China, he said the government was talking with other countries as well to bring in more support in this regard. Responding to query regarding the talks with India for the support, the Foreign Minister said the government has approached India for cooperation and has received assurance to send a rapid response team of health workers and necessary equipment.

Foreign Minister Gyawali expressed confidence over the effectiveness of the several measures and steps that the government has put in place in time to check the pandemic outbreak. He said that international arrival has been stopped before this as well as an entry from across the border has also been checked, adding that the government looks forward to the support from people and the local level. Stating that it’s time for local levels to prove their mettle and relevance, the Foreign Minister said leaders of the society and community should coordinate in an appropriate manner.

Minister Gyawali mentioned that local levels have developed quarantine and it is the responsibility of all to come together at this time of crisis. Stating that the government has brought the equipment provided by China, he said the government was talking with other countries as well to bring in more support in this regard. Responding to query regarding the talks with India for the support, the Foreign Minister said the government has approached India for cooperation and has received assurance to send a rapid response team of health workers and necessary equipment.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Gyawali said that the government is taking all the updates about Nepalese living abroad through videoconferences with the help the diplomatic missions and embassies in the respective countries.

“Lately, three Nepalis in Bahrain and four in the United Arab of Emirates were confirmed to have tested positive for the coronavirus and are presently under medical treatment while two have been already recovered following treatment,” minister Gyawali said.

''We have been assured by these countries that the Nepali community would be given treatment on par with their citizens. Moreover, we have been assured that those Nepali getting their labor contract expired or students having their VISA term over will be facing no legal issues during this crisis period," he said.

“As we have seen that among the five tested positive for COVID-19 so far in Nepal, all of them were foreign returnees. Hence, the right move, for now, is to be where we are and stay alert and safe.” The Government of Nepal has requested the governments of those countries wherever Nepalis are to give them the required security and other support. The governments there have also given their commitment for the same,” said Minister.

Besides, the government has ensured provisions for sending minimum expenditure to those students possessing 'no-objection' letters from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and those who are in need of doing part-time jobs for their families, according to the Minister. He went on to say that the government was aware of the possibility that many Nepali could lose jobs and be pushed into economic and other crises and it might have to go for rescue efforts if the COVID-19 crisis went long. ''We are minutely analyzing the probability and likelihood of multi-dimensional impact on the economy. But again we are committed to taking appropriate measures to deal with the situation that we may face in the future at the right time. The government will leave no stone unturned to fulfill its responsibilities towards its citizens.''

Responding to queries on the government’s acknowledgment about COVID-19 hit Nepalis across the world, especially about four Nepalis reported to have contracted COVID-19 in Australia’s Granville at Sidney, Minister Gyawali said that the government has been regularly receiving information about Nepalis abroad including Australia and the USA. An American with roots in Nepal is learned to have died due to COVID-19 while four others have been reported dead in the UK. Nepalis in Germany and Portugal are also learned to have been infected with the deadly virus. The government, according to Gyawali, was coordinating with the government of these countries and monitoring the situation.

Ruling out the possibility of evacuating the Nepalis abroad at the time of travel restrictions imposed by various countries to stem the outbreak of the infection, the Minister concluded that the best option left for now was to stay indoors wherever we are. “The circumstance will determine the right course of action,” he asserted. Although the people were gradually appreciating the lockdown enforced by the government since March 24 to contain the outbreak COVID-19, the Minister said, there were doubts about whether it could be an effective measure to curb its spread.

In response to a query about the management of 14 tonnes of medial appliances including the personal protective equipment (PPE) recently brought from China, the Minister said that that the medical appliances were in short supply in every country across the globe and the government was making every possible effort to control the pandemic with available resources.

The minister further said that the medical equipment and support materials received would be proportionally distributed to state levels. "We have laid emphasis on the safety aspects of the health workers who are in the frontline in providing services to the needy people during such a difficult time". From now onward we will expand the scope of COVID-19 infection tests. "I do not claim that there are no shortcomings in responding to the pandemic.

But this is not the right time to review. We have placed special attention on the safety of health workers, security personnel, migrant workers and people with disabilities. The government also has doubled the incentives to the health workers as well as made arrangements of insurance. We are very sensitive to the possible difficulties to be faced by health workers in performing their duties", he said.

"However, some are trying to pursue their self-interests even during such a critical time", he said, adding some are demanding a consensus government; some are seeking resignation of ministers and some are hell-bent to create doubts on the well-intended tasks of the government.

"They have to understand that the anti-graft regulatory bodies would oversee if any irregularities have occurred anywhere", he asserted, adding no action of the government would go beyond monitoring and scrutiny. But this is the time to express satisfaction for the government's prompt action to import health appliances and support in the much-needed hours, he noted.

Minister Gyawali went on saying that the government is trying its best to hand over necessary equipment to the health workers and other personnel mobilized in containing COVID-19 risks.

"We are also opting to develop some new structures in a bid to stem the virus outbreak. We were also not completely prepared to fight against the pandemic as it was with many countries around the entire world. Now we have centralized our all-out efforts and systematic plans to tackle the risks.

The government has shut the flight service and sealed its border with the enforcement of nationwide lockdown". He further said that the only way to contain the risk of the pandemic was to keep those suspected of carrying the virus in quarantines and increase the number of tests. "This is the time when we mostly require an increased level of cooperation from local levels and citizens.

To this date, the infection has not spread to the community and limited to the foreign returnees.

Responding to some concerns about the alleged failure to impose a stringent health examination in the airport, Minister Gyawali said the only thing that could be done in the airport was a measurement of temperature. However, the temperature may not rise even in seven to ten days of infection.

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