A significant decline in the number of Covid-19 cases in the past couple of months has brought a sense of normalcy, and with it, complacency when it comes to taking precautions. With markets opening and restrictions getting lifted, nothing seems to stop Nepalis from organising jatras, rallies and all kinds of indoor and outdoor gatherings that draw huge crowds. As is their wont, Nepalis have started making masks the exception rather than the norm, and even those who wear them leave their mouths and noses exposed as they cover only their chins. A growing number of people seem to be certain that the coronavirus has gone for good, while the reality could be just the opposite.
Past experiences have shown that the virus strikes right when people think everything has returned to normal and start mingling in large crowds. It was when we had started taking the virus for granted last year that the delta variant caught us off guard, and caused significant damage, with people dying in the dozens, even hundreds, during its peak. But it is as if we have come down with national insomnia. As soon as people got to know that the omicron variant of the virus was comparatively less deadly than the delta variant, they started taking it lightly. And now, with 66.1 per cent of the total population fully vaccinated, there seems to be a sense of triumph against the virus, although only 8 per cent have received the booster shots.
We are certainly better off now than during the three waves we have weathered, but experts have warned that those who have been fully vaccinated could still get significantly ill even if they don’t require hospitalisation. Worse, they might suffer from long Covid. And that is not a great trade-off for a mask-less society indeed. The virus ~ or its yet unknown variant ~ might be lurking around and might just strike us out of the blue. And, seeing the way people conduct themselves in public spaces, where the idea of physical distancing and taking precautions seems to have become a thing of the past, the possibility of yet another round of infection cannot be negated at all.
As local elections draw closer, there has been a great surge in the temperature of the political sphere. Political parties have already started conducting back-to-back meetings and rallies, and they are only going to grow in the weeks to come. With it, the possibility of the virus raising its head again has only grown.