Dasain crowds disregard Covid-19 warnings

All photos: BIKRAM RAI

With Dasain only two weeks way, people in Kathmandu are fully in festive mode, and many are forgoing safety precautions even as Nepal recorded the highest ever daily total for Covid-19 cases.

Of the 4,364 new cases nationwide on Thursday, 2,540 were in Kathmandu Valley. Twelve people have died in the past 24 hours, bringing the total fatalities to 590.

The Dasain Bazar in Asan and different parts of the capital this week saw huge crowds shopping in narrow alleyways, many of them without masks and even those with masks wore them around their chins.

But even as Nepal's total confirmed cases near the 100,000 milestone, and fatalities cross 600, sections of the public are ignoring the pandemic. Government response is described by critics as being confused and ad hoc, while the citizens appear to be behaving recklessly. This has turned the Valley into a hotbed of the virus, and has dragged Nepal headlong into a health emergency.

The fact that Kathmandu Valley recorded an excess of 10,000 cases in a week forced the Health Ministry’s Jageshwor Gautam in his daily press briefing on Thursday to repeatedly request people to celebrate this year’s Dasin-Tihar-Chaat wherever they are at present, to prevent them from taking Covid-19 to their villages.