Covid-19 health recommendations take a backseat as political protests intensify in Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal:

As we draw close towards the end of 2020, this year is going to be remembered for many things – a novel coronavirus which originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019 spread across the globe. By March, WHO had declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

Subsequently, nations took their own approach – some declared hard lockdowns, some declared relaxed lockdowns, and some carried about their own way. While each nation took a different approach, advisories by health bodies have been the same:

  1. Wear a mask when going outdoors,
  2. Maintain physical distance,
  3. Test yourself if you are showing symptoms, or have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

However, as political protests from all parties intensifies in Nepal, health advisories have seemed to taken a backseat. Few are seen wearing masks, and recommended 1.5 metre physical distance is seen totally ignored while such rallies take place.

Check out a few pictures from rallies held by different parties in Nepal:

Youth are seen without masks and without physical distancing in Kathmandu.
Thousands gathered in Kathmandu to protest against PM Oli’s move to dissolve the constitution. In this image, social distancing regulations are completely ignored.
Nepal’s oppostion, Nepali Congress is seen abandoning physical distancing protocols in this image.
A bike rally organised by members of the Rastriya Prajantantra Party

What are the political parties protesting about?

Amid growing rift between two factions between Nepal’s ruling party, on December 20, 2020, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli called an emergency Council of Ministers meeting which recommended President Bhandari to dissolve the Parliament.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari approved the government’s recommendation on the same day. Issuing a press release, the President’s Office announced fresh elections to be held in two rounds on April 30 and on May 10 as per the recommendation of the Council of Ministers.

While Dahal-Nepal led faction of Nepal Communist Party oppose the PM’s move to dissolve the parliament as unconstitutional, PM Oli led faction claim the move was necessary to solve Nepal’s political problems.

Meanwhile, members of other parties and several apolitical groups have also been staging protests against the government’s decision to dissolve the parliament.