But where are the strategies to fight it?
Never has the world come across an invader so savage and heartless as Covid 19. Its insatiable appetite for human lives is enervating. Many governments and dispensations have almost given up even before starting a fight against the world-wide viral pandemic.
Though Nepal has not suffered as grievously as many other countries -many of them highly advanced – the nation’s government and officialdom has not exactly covered itself with glory in the anti-Covid campaign.
Repeated public agitations particularly by our youth against governmental inefficiency and apathy are reflective of country-wide public ire. Adding fuel to the fire is the ongoing political tussle for power in gross violation of constitutional, ethical and moral values. The masses are flabbergasted at the shameless way the political class and that too self-avowedly pro-people communists are trying every trick in the trade to retain or usurp power. Obviously, the ruling class has little time and inclination to do what it has been elected for – good governance.
As if this was not terrible enough, one finds that the second and, at places, a third wave of Covid is back to wreak havoc in many countries. Tragedy is that at no place had Covid bid goodbye. The malaise had, at the most receded in parts of the world, before forcing a comeback largely because people chose to ignore basic anti-pandemic protocol of maintaining social distance, washing hands regularly, and wearing masks. Was that too much to ask for? But many were ignorant about these simple rules. Others were too arrogant to believe that they too could get infected. Covid caught them by the neck and used them as tools to spread its ruthless reign all across. No wonder, both the state and the people are to blame for, though in varying degrees.
One can, however, draw solace from the findings that the second wave is not so extensive, severe and fatal. This is because people in different affected countries have developed some immunity to Covid over the last one year.
But this is no guarantee that Covid’s downhill journey has begun. In fact, this killer virus is the least understood micro-organism. Its origin has still not been traced. The World Health Organisation admitted this much after its investigating team returned from Wuhan, the epicentre of Covid in China, in March-end.
Also, there is no consensus among scientists about the efficacy, efficiency and longevity of vaccines prepared at, so to say, bullet speed by some countries and pharmaceutical giants. Usually, it takes more than a decade to develop and test a reliable vaccine. Moreover, it will take years to vaccinate all on the suffering planet which has been sadly divided into vaccine-haves and vaccine-have-nots. Unfortunately, Nepal is among the have-nots.
Neighbouring India is witnessing resurgence of Covid in at least seven of its states so far. Considering the porosity of our borders and open and unbridled migration to India by our job hunting youth, Nepal is equally vulnerable to repeated Covid infection.
Spurt in unemployment is staring us in the face. The elephant is in the room. Yet the state, its economic policy makers and captains of industry are showing no signs of concern for the coming times.
This neglect is most disconcerting in view of the fact that over 1.2 million Nepalis were pushed below the poverty line during Covid’s one-year terror. As many as 1.5 million persons lost jobs; 9,24,000 job holders and 6,40,000 migrant workers.
What about our Covid-hit companies? While 89% of them have resumed operations, somehow only 16% have started making profits. Small and cottage units accounting for 10.89% are yet to stand on their feet because of lack of access to any relief from the government.
The time has come for the government, squabbling ruling party factions, the opposition, economists, business czars and czarinas, and all right thinking people to put their heads together and devise a way out for Nepal in the uncertain Covid times.