Collective amnesia is a wonderfully convenient thing if it helps us chase things that are of immediate benefit and interest. Nepal’s political parties have made it amply clear that there is nothing important for them than gathering huge crowds in a show of “power”.
Having suffered a vertical split and been defenestrated from the government, the CPN-UML was happy to show its strength or mass support on the banks of the Narayani recently. The message by health professionals that the risk of transmission remains extremely high at huge gatherings, and that the coronavirus is still very much in circulation these days, was completely lost on the party leaders. But the CPN-UML is hardly the only party to suffer from amnesia.
The Nepali Congress, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party and the CPN (Maoist Centre) are at different stages of their conventions, and are equally eager to organise huge gatherings to show their strength as the next general elections are not too far away. It is as if the coronavirus were a thing of the past. It is as if the second wave of the pandemic never caught us off guard towards the end of April, leaving over 6,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands more infected.
It is as if they have forgotten that the hospitals were full to the brim and doctors had to tend to patients in the corridors and parking spaces. It is as if they have forgotten that people had to run from pillar to post to secure a bottle of oxygen. As many countries across the world have opened up, it does not take long for any new variant to enter Nepal. With the United States of America, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea, among many other countries across the world, reporting the transmission of the deadly Omicron variant that has already caused havoc in South Africa, we cannot continue to maintain cognitive failure.
Now that the first few cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in India, we cannot remain lenient anymore. What is more, the Delta variant is still circulating among communities, and people are still getting infected and even dying. It is just that the number of the infected and the dead is not as high as during the second wave. On Tuesday, 298 new cases and six new deaths were reported. The numbers are certainly quite low considering the 9,000 mark we reached during the peak of the second wave. Perhaps this is why the political parties, as well as the public, have all but forgotten Covid-19 safety protocols.
But the trouble the virus brings to the affected is no less, no matter how fewer people are being infected. Health professionals say even those who have been vaccinated have had to be hospitalised. As past experiences have amply taught us, we are depressingly unprepared to deal with yet another largescale transmission, for we have failed to ramp up infrastructure and increase human resource capacity in our hospitals.
(The Kathmandu Post)