Neglecting Health Guidelines While Protesting Risks Spreading Coronavirus

Kathmandu, Jan. 14: After the parliament was dissolved on December 20, there have been several protests and demonstrations across the country, either supporting or denouncing the move. However, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts worry that such large gatherings might lead to a calamitous situation.

The Exhibition Road in Kathmandu and the four government colleges located there – Bishwo Bhasa Campus, Nepal Law Campus, Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus and Balmiki Campus – have become major hubs for the protests.
These government colleges, with their politically-aligned student unions, have been seeing regular protests against the dissolution of the House of Representatives. And most of the participants of these protests neither wear masks nor maintain social distancing, according to a student studying Masters of Arts in English at Ratna Rajya.

The student, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the demonstrators, who also gathered from other colleges and parts of Kathmandu Valley, did not abide by the health protocols.
“And since we have to come in contact with them, many of us fear contracting COVID-19,” the graduate student said.

When The Rising Nepal approached some student leaders at the Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus about the issue, they admitted of the health lapses. “We do ask everyone to wear masks and maintain distance but to no avail.
We can say nothing more to them but we request the ones fearful of possible infection to stay a little away,” said a student leader associated with the Prachanda-Nepal faction.

According to health experts, carelessness can cause catastrophe as many people can get exposed to the coronavirus while in close proximity with each other during protesting.

“Neglecting precautions is equivalent to inviting the virus. It is not only the ones protesting who are at risk but also the people they meet later,” said Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun, chief medical officer at the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital.

While there has been a decline in new COVID-19 cases in the country, health experts urge against taking the pandemic lightly.

“The cases have decreased for now but if the protests and gatherings continue in their similar form without regard for health and safety, we will soon have a difficult situation on our hands which might complicate our efforts to control the pandemic,” cautioned Dr. Pun.

– The Rising Nepal

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