With another extension of the Nepal lockdown, to April 27, people’s patience is wearing thin. Humans are just not used to being cooped up in their homes for weeks on end. The first few days and weeks of lockdown, as evidence from around the world suggests, can increase family bonding and prompt reflection about our lives and our careers. It also acts as a sobering reminder that however much humankind has progressed, a freak natural accident can still bring the world to a standstill in a jiffy. But a chance at retrospection and renewal aside, there is only so much you can endure.
What if there is no other option, though? Accept it or not, Nepal has only just started on its corona journey. As testing speeds up, so will the number of confirmed corona positives, and it could be months before Nepal reaches its ‘peak’ cases. And as the number of cases mount, the lockdown will get stricter still. Some places are already being sealed off. In the next few weeks and months, if scientific projections are to be believed, South Asia as a whole will be pummeled by the novel coronavirus. The number of infections and deaths will swell. As ominously, with the national economy on the skids, unemployment and privation will rise, hitting those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder the hardest. In fact, before the corona wave dies down, the pandemic could completely and forever change our lives.
Preparing for the worst is not the same thing as panicking. The only way a poor country like Nepal can deal with a crisis of this magnitude is to assume the worst and prepare for it. Yes, that will entail hardship for many folks. Countless tough decisions will have to be made. But one thing we as a country cannot do—never mind the rising restlessness—is to assume that we will get through this easily. Even the countries that were far better equipped to handle the crisis have struggled—and how! We should thus be closely watching and learning from international experiences every step of the way. Again, besides checking the spread of the virus, ensuring adequate provisions for those struggling for two meals a day should be the immediate priority. This crisis will test our national resolve. Only perseverance and collective effort will pull us out of it.