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Impact of COVID-19 lock down on Nepal

Dikshya Ghimire

The pandemic has already spread across the world, taking the lives of 340,004 people with confirmed cases 5,304,001 until date. It is spreading rapidly urging countries to completely lockdown to break the chain of infection.  Highly infected countries like China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, UK and India, have forced their citizens to self–quarantine or live in isolation.  Nepal government has also announced the nationwide lockdown forcing people to stay at their homes. Life in lockdown has become a tremendous challenge. Except emergencies, the public parks, schools and colleges, movie theatres, swimming pools are closed. Public meetings, social gatherings and other events that requires gathering of people are also banned. Many people have a fear and an anxiety while others are simply coping with the situation. Terrifying thoughts of likelihood of catching the infection has forced people to panic and people are busy stocking their household essentials and medicines so that they would not have to go out frequently.

In these circumstances, some people prefer doing household chores, enhancing their skills, finding ways to keep themselves entertained while some are being a part of social media. People who were not able to spend quality time with their family members, this pandemic have brought them together. From breakfast to dinner, laughs and tears, meets and prayers a family are together creating a meaningful moments. Spending 24 hours together under the same roof, people must have known about the value of relationship among their loved ones.

As people’s daily activities are limited within four corners of the house “Work from Home” has become a spotlight. For researchers, novelists, and writers the only way for them is to grab the pen and paper and jot down the feelings they are experiencing. Fitness enthusiasts are engaging themselves in doing physical exercises, meditation and yoga as staying fit in this pandemic is an instant mantra to manage stress.

We never thought of being locked in a home for several weeks but somehow we are able to cope with it. But what about the people who are homeless, daily wages workers who are struggling financially and elderly people who are living alone? These questions arise in every people’s mind “Can people afford this lockdown”? Though government is trying their best to distribute relief packages and others essential commodities to the needy people, yet people are not satisfied with the relief. Hence poor people are again the hardest hit in this pandemic.

In Nepal, people are dealing with this virus and lockdown period in different ways. So, in order to find out how Nepalese are dealing with this virus, I carried out a brief online survey among 84 people. This online survey was carried out among youths. My result showed different perceptions of people towards this current situation.  About 90% of people believed this lockdown as an important step towards preventing from virus and breaking the chain, while 10 % of people didn’t find this lockdown much important to overcome this pandemic. Similarly, majority of the people (about 95 %) are staying at home as they don’t want to get infected with the virus. Likewise, about 97% of the respondents were able to cope with the virus while very few people (about 3%) did not find themselves capable to cope with this situation. People are found to  engaged in several ways; self isolating and social distancing; being surrounded by family members; writing articles;  reading books;  browsing social media ;performing household chores; meditating to manage stress; learning and following healthy hygiene; and developing positive attitude.

The result shows that; more than half of them (52%) were reported to be stressed out while almost half (48 %) of the respondent were feeling anxious in this lockdown. About 13% of the respondent were feeling isolated. To the question on what activities are they doing to cope with lockdown? The below chart shows the following

       Figure:  pie chart showing different types of activities done to cope with lockdown

 

On the other hand, this lockdown has brought changes in people’s behavior and habits such that some people have developed habits of eating healthy diet, exercising early morning, reading novels, helping parents at household chores, developing better cooking skills, planting new indoor plants and moreover taking breaks from technology.

Every problem comes with a hidden lesson for life. Whether we take this situation as an opportunity or threat depends on us. We can learn many things from this pandemic if we are optimistic to life. This lockdown taught us that humanity is the most important thing during disaster. Nothing is permanent in this world, so money and fame are never to be prioritized more than health of the people. We should take care of our physical as well as mental health in such scenarios. People must understand the importance of healthcare workers and healthcare facilities. In addition, we should always cherish the love we have received from our family. On a professional level, we should be prepared for the unprepared. “Work from home” can be a new trend to save the economy of our country and explore opportunities. The lockdown has also taught us to be independent country and we must work to prepare ourselves to self- sufficiency. Overall, we have just seen the tip of the iceberg of this pandemic. We should be prepared for the upcoming worse scenarios. Together we can win this battle if we fight this situation with humanity and compassion. So let’s unite together and follow all the protective measures to tackle this pandemic gracefully and be hopeful for everything to come back to normal as soon as possible.

Dikshya Ghimire is a junior consultant at ISET-Nepal