Yes, the world as we know it has changed tremendously since the 31st of December 2019 when a drastic misfortune fell on all of us on earth. It was reminiscent of what had occurred a hundred years ago –the Spanish Flu of 1918 which had then killed off many individuals in different lands – irrespective of their status. This now is a similar episode in our lives – a minor occurrence in the history of our planet!
Many religious minded may at one time have thought that this was the end of Kaliyug and that Kalki would emerge riding on a white horse to see the impending event all the way through to its end. This is not likely to occur soon, both in India and Nepal. The first wave of the pandemic in 2020 did not seem to cause great damage and we all patted ourselves in the back talking of our inherent immunity etc. Yes, lockdown was partially done and seemed to be successful though the organisation and reality of our isolation centres for Nepalis fleeing home from India is another matter.
Looking at the present situation India and Nepal, it is to say the least grave because of the porous border that exists between us at this time. The new Covid-19 variants: B.1.617.2 & B.1. 617.1 are the ones expected to cause havoc in the days to come. Thinking over our past months it seems that our actions in Nepal have been lacka-dai-si-cal. True the social distancing, the use of masks and use of sanitizers, though broadcast over the radio, TV, the land-line phone and even the pocket mobiles seem to have gone unheeded by many of us Nepalis. Even at this grave juncture rules are not followed. We had to celebrate our New Years, the various other festivals, the birthdays and marriage parties in full tempo, irrespective of what the government had advised. Had the government done its duty towards the people of the land? What about the various political or protest rallies held from time to time during the last six months? Well it looks like the fat is in the fire. We Nepalis are in a bad situation and face hard times ahead.
India had initially gifted not only us but other surrounding countries in the region a substantial amount of the Covishield / Covaxin vaccine. These were rightly first given to health workers. The sad part in training institutions was that the medical and nursing students who also help tremendously in patient care were not given these shots. Not giving them the vaccine but expecting them to work day in and day out is not right after having excluded them from protection. Then there was another oversight. Those over 65 years were given the vaccine at first. Subsequent arrangements were for those between 18 to 59 years. Are there no Nepalis between 60-64 years of age? It seems that the initial gifted vaccine stocks have now been used up though there are individuals who have had the first dose but the second one that is due seems nowhere. It is likely that some people here, as in some places around the world may have to have two different vaccines. Such is life. Though the Russian Sputnik V and the Chinese Sinopharm / Sinovac seem to be available one does not know the exact situation. Yes, a certain number of doses have been given free but there seems to be some hanky-panky as far as vaccine procurement is concerned. The procurement of PCR tests have been shrouded in a mystery that has still to be cleared up. Following that of course is the procurement of the vaccine from India. Because of the commission issue when the government had ordered it, it does not look that the vaccine from India is coming anytime soon. If this is so, then the persons responsible for this fiasco need to be ferreted out and action taken. These individuals should then be labelled as persona non grata in Nepal. Because of this Late Latif behaviour on our part the concern producer of the vaccine in India has announced that in view of their own needs, the earliest that they can supply the vaccine to Nepal is at the end of 2021.
Aba ke garne?
Then in this hour of dire need came the shortage of not only oxygen but the cylinders to contain it. Thankfully it has been partially solved. The sun’s rays on the horizon is that at this time of dire needs, some prominent business men have come forward to set up oxygen producing plants at government hospitals. Our thanks to individuals who have come forward to set up these plants as these will make us self sufficient in essential oxygen for the treatment of patients. On the flipside however, ones hopes that the government will also make provision for the maintenance of these oxygen plants to ensure that they are run properly and do not become the property of kabbadiwalas after the epidemic is over!
One thought is also for all those deceased as a result of the Corona epidemic. The two units of the crematorium in the Pashupati area worked full time. Plans are said to increase this set up by two other units. In view of the fact that the supply of electricity will be far better in the future years, it makes sense to set up crematoriums in many of the larger towns of Nepal. There will be a great saving of firewood and many trees will not have to be cut down!
Looking at the management of the Corona crisis in Nepal, I had initially thought of titling this item ‘Ke garchass Mangale afnayi dhangale’? Our Mangales at the top have let us all down. Therefore on second thoughts, remembering the item ‘Bhagwan Bharosa’ of one year ago I made it as above. After all we are still in a precarious situation.
The author is a retired medical doctor and writes fiction under the pen name of Mani Dixit also. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd