We know it is coming. Yet we seem to have given up even before the dreaded second Covid-19 wave arrives. There is zero trust between the government and the citizens it supposedly represents. The presence of enormous, unmasked crowds at various party venues to bring in 2078 BS, all over the country, suggests people either don’t believe the new Covid-19 contagion is serious enough or they don’t give a damn. Rather than trust an incompetent, lying government, they would take their chances. Rather than stay cooped up in their homes like caged animals—and for what, they might ask after their previous lockdown experiences?—they would live freely to their last breath.
The government response has been blasé. It has shown no commitment to screen the thousands of people who have been streaming into Nepal from India on a daily basis. Since India placed restrictions on its nationals from traveling abroad from Indian territories following the new Covid-19 wave, many of them are making a beeline to Kathmandu in order to fly to third-country destinations. Most of them admit to evading border surveillance mechanisms that would have meant lining up for Covid-19 screening for hours. Similar apathy has characterized government efforts to import vaccines. Not even a tenth of the population has been jabbed till date.
Private school owners meanwhile are reluctant to shut down their institutions, willfully ignoring a clear evidence of spread of a dangerous variant of Covid-19 among young students. Unlike the previous variant that afflicted mostly the elderly, this one hits the youth the hardest. Hospital beds are quickly filling up. A more credible government should have had no problem making the school owners see sense. But as the Oli government battles for its very survival, it has been badly distracted from the growing virus menace, and its credibility is crumbling fast.
There is confusion all around. Even amid a severe shortage of vaccines, those who remain to be vaccinated are already having second thoughts after hearing of severe side-effects of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines. The government has done a very poor job of communicating why getting the vaccine is worth the risk, or if people should really hold back. As it vacillates, people are coming to their own conclusions. The previous year in Bikram Sambat was a forgettable one for Nepal. The omens are ominous for 2078 BS as well.