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Ever since the Nepal government announced its plan to quarantine evacuees from coronavirus-hit Wuhan in Bhaktapur province, locals here are demonstrating against the same as the proposed isolation centre is extremely close to human settlements.
People fear that they would be infected from the virus which first originated from Wuhan city and has so far claimed the lives of 1100 people in China itself.
"If they want to keep them then they should use vacant hospitals or else reserve hotels, there are many more options, why should bring them here only? We won't accept it. If they only care for about 180 citizens then they should get rid of us," Bimala Tamang, one of the protesting residents told ANI.
The government initiated the process of evacuation of Nepalis from Hubei on February 1. The embassy of Nepal in Beijing requested those interested in returning home to submit applications. By February 2, 180 Nepalis including three minors have submitted application. However, the government still has not been able to confirm the evacuation date.
The government has not been able to finalise the location to house China evacuees as they will have to be quarantined for two weeks once they return home before they are released.
As of now, two buildings of Nepal Electricity Authority Training Centre in Bhaktapur have been vacated to quarantine Nepalis returning from China.
Multiple rounds of meetings and consultation with locals have failed to reach any conclusion.
Locals of Kharipati have been demanding a health centre in the area as a precautionary measure.
"We have to go to Bhaktapur main area to buy even a paracetamol. I am a patient of diabetes and blood pressure and I need a health care facility here for us. They (China returnees) should be treated but we also need the hospital facility as they are going to be near our residences," Kamada Lamichhane, another local who participated in a meeting with government officials on Tuesday said.
Not only locals but even elected representatives from Bhaktapur district are against the plan of setting up a quarantine facility in the densely populated area which comes against the standards of the World Health Organization. Prem Suwal, elected representative from Bhaktapur took up the issue at the parliamentary meeting on Tuesday.
"Quarantine for people to-be-evacuated from China which is being set up at Bhaktapur's Kharipati was surveyed in the morning by officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and Health Ministry. However, it is being opposed by locals. Such kind of quarantines should not be kept in the middle of a densely populated area. It should be kept far away from residential areas as per standards of WHO. I would like to attract the attention of the government over the issue," Suwal said while addressing the session.
Other places such as Ichangu and Shivapuri of Kathmandu also have seen protests as the government begins adding on infrastructure and facilities in the area to quarantine evacuees.
A local body of Shivapuri last week issued a notice rejecting the Center's decision to set up a quarantine facility in the area.
Nepal is yet to announce the dates to send aircraft to evacuate its nationals from Wuhan. However, the government has said that preparations are complete.
Minister for Health and Population, Bhanubhakta Dhakal, while addressing a Parliamentary Committee Meeting on Tuesday claimed that quarantine facilities are ready to house the evacuees.
As per minister Dhakal, 43 hospitals in Kathmandu Valley have been kept on standby with isolation beds in case any of the evacuees show signs and symptoms of coronavirus.
The government had issued notice to all hospitals around Kathmandu to submit a contingency plan two weeks earlier and, as per the same, has increased the number of satellite hospitals.
As per the Ministry of Health and Population, a total of five hospitals have been nominated as hub hospitals whereas the number of satellite hospitals have been increased to 36 from 15.
A Public Interest Litigation has been filed by Advocate Ritesh Poudyal at Nepal's Apex Court against the government, demanding Nepali people interested to come back from China should be brought back soon.
On January 19, Nepal became the first South Asian nation to confirm infection from the new strain of coronavirus, named as 'Covid-19' by WHO, which has been declared as a global health emergency with reports of it having spread to over two dozen nations around the globe.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)