The Nepal government has intensified its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic over the last couple of days. It has extended the lockdown till April 7 and also cancelled a contract with a Chinese company after detecting sub-standard medical supplies.
Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, Director-General of the Department of Health Services, Nepal said: “We have scrapped the deal we signed with Omni Business Corporate International, which had committed to supply 19 items including protective gear and testing kits.” The ministry has also confiscated the deposit made by the company.
The Nepalese health ministry said that the kits did not meet World Health Organization (WHO) as well as its own standards. Nepal had received 10 per cent of the supplies from the company through Nepal Airlines while the rest were stopped enroute when in Tibet.
This decision by the Nepalese government comes after a spate of cancellations of Chinese medical supplies by European countries due to unreliable products. Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and other European countries found China-made coronavirus rapid testing kits and masks defective and unsitable for protection.
On other fronts, the government also decided to extend the lockdown till April 7. This was announced by Yubaraj Khatiwada, Finance Minister and Minister for Communication and Information Technology on Nepal Television. Only those who have to purchase essential food items or requiring medical treatment have been exempt. Also, vehicles approved by the govenment, those belonging to health workers and security agencies can ply on the road.
The Nepalese police has been strict with people violating the lockdown and has constituted mobile patrols. There were reports that Chinese and Nepali workers clashed at the Marsyangdi hydropower site when the newly-returned Chinese workers broke the lockdown rules.
The clash happened when villagers of Marsyangdi, who had put up barricades in their village, found that two trucks bringing in construction materials had removed the barricades. When the villagers protested, the Chinese workers took out khukris, local knives, in retaliation. The locals wanted the Chinese workers, who had come from China during the days of lockdown, to remain confined to their places. The police is now investigating the matter.
Nepal had already sealed the border with India and China including the 37 and four motorable land entry points respectively though movement of goods will not be affected to the landlocked nation. International flights remain closed impacting the Himalayan country’s tourism and economy.
Nepal has six confirmed COVID-19 cases and has tested 993 people. Over 80 people have been kept in isolation in hospitals..