Amid border row, Nepal PM blames returnees from India for rise in COVID-19 cases in country

Nepal recorded 279 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, taking the total to 4,364.

Published: 11th June 2020 03:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th June 2020 08:51 AM   |  A+A-

Nepalese police use water cannon to disperse youth who were protesting on the road leading to the prime minister's official residence in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday, June 9, 2020. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Wednesday yet again sought to blame India for the rise of coronavirus cases in the Himalayan nation.

“Eighty-five per cent of the people who tested positive for coronavirus in Nepal are those who returned from India. With the start of the movement of people from India, the number of coronavirus cases doubled in just one month in Nepal,” he said in Parliament.

Oli’s remarks come at a time when tensions between the two countries are on the rise over the introduction of a constitutional amendment Bill in Nepal’s parliament to include Lipulekh and the disputed territories of Limipiyadhura and Kalapani in the country’s new political map.

Nepal recorded 279 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, taking the total to 4,364.

Oli went on to say that while only 7,000-odd Nepalese citizens returned from India in April-May, the number increased to over 2 lakh in May-June.

“Every day, around 7000-8000 people are returning from India,” he said and added that since the returnees came in crammed buses and trains, there was every chance that many of them may have contracted the virus.

Oli said that with the start of the movement of people from India, the number of coronavirus cases doubled in just one month in Nepal.

In April-May, only 7,400 Nepalese had come from India.

However, in May-June, 222,000 people returned from India, he said, adding that now every day 7- 8,000 people are coming back from India.

"As a large number of people returned from India, which was beyond our expectation, we could not manage them well. Now the number of infected people has crossed 4,000," the prime minister said.

Oli also lashed out at Uttar Pradesh CM over his comments on Kalapani.

“Adityanathji has said certain things about Nepal. His comments are inappropriate and not legitimate. Someone in a responsible position in the Central government should request him not to comment on issues that are not part of his domain,” he said.

At least 15 people have died due to the disease, according to the health ministry.

Province No.2 situated in southern Nepal bordering India has highest number of cases.

The Oli government is facing criticism from various quarters over its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to critics, despite the over two-month-long lockdown, the coronavirus infections and deaths are increasing in the country.

Thousands of people are kept in quarantine facilities near Indo-Nepal border areas.

However, those quarantine centres are becoming COVID-19 hotspots due to lack of basic sanitation facilities.

Oli said 14,454 Nepalese abroad have contracted the virus and 127 died in 13 countries due to the infection.

The ties between India and Nepal came under strain after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a 80-km-long strategically crucial road connecting the Lipulekh pass with Dharchula in Uttarakhand on May 8.

Nepal reacted sharply to the inauguration of the road claiming that it passed through Nepalese territory.

India rejected the claim asserting that the road lies completely within its territory.

Oli said the death toll from the coronavirus is very low in the country.

He attributed it to Nepalese people's strong immune system due to their food habits and the good treatment facility provided by his government.

He said the government has taken "effective" measures to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

"We have increased our facility to 5,000 coronavirus tests per day. 1,06,000 tests have been conducted so far. Besides, the government has allocated 45 dedicated hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients. At the local level, 3,000 health workers have been deployed to collect swab and conduct coronavirus tests. As many as 3,200 health workers have been assigned for contract tracing across the country," he said.

The government has created 3,767 quarantine facilities with the capacity to accommodate 2,35,500 people.

Over 11,000 health workers have been deployed in these facilities.

A total of 53,000 women health volunteers have been deployed for generating awareness about coronavirus across the country, the prime minister noted.

(With PTI Inputs)



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