Four-month lockdown ends in Kathmandu Valley

Authorities in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley have decided to end the lockdown imposed since late April in the wake of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, although certain restrictions will still remain.

“In recent days, the number of Covid-19 cases has come down significantly,” Kali Prasad Parajuli, chief district officer of the Kathmandu district, told Xinhua news agency on WEdnesday.

“After reviewing the data about infections, we came to the conclusion that prohibitory orders are no longer needed to bring the pandemic under control.

“There are certain restrictions still in place and we have also asked the public to follow the health protocols,” he said, noting the decision was made jointly with the chiefs of the Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts in the valley.

In a notice issued earlier in the day, the Kathmandu district also paved the way for schools to be reopened for the first time in four months, as the restrictive measures against public transport and shops had already been eased.

“Normally, schools can not be opened with the physical presence of students,” reads the notice.

“But local government can allow reopening of schools in coordination with District Covid-19 Crisis Management Centre if there is an urgent need for reopening of schools.”

According to Parajuli, the decision was made over demand from public schools, as some students could not take online classes due to the lack of computers, internet and mobile phones.

As per the notice, festivals can be celebrated with the presence of as few people as possible.

Dhundi Prasad Niraula, chief district officer of the Lalitpur district, told Xinhua that cinemas, swimming pools, museums and dance clubs can be reopened and conferences and sporting events can be organised by following the health protocols.

The lockdown is lifted with a view to giving vibrancy to the economy as Nepali New Year comes next month and the government needs revenues as well, said Niraula.

The Kathmandu Valley and other parts of Nepal returned to lockdown on April 29 after the coronavirus battered the South Asian country again early that month and was extended time and again.

Nepal reported 1,648 new cases and 20 fatalities in the past 24 hours, bringing the total infections to 764,295 and the death toll to 10,770.

Over two-thirds of the Nepali population has developed antibodies against Covid-19, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Population.