The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed concern about poor human rights situation amid the coronavirus pandemic in Bagmati Province.

As per a report released by the NHRC Bagmati Province Office last week, the government had failed to initiate preparedness measures against the pandemic.

“The government did not make enough effort to control or avoid the outbreak of the disease and lagged behind in cashing in on the delayed onset of the contagion in the country, thereby worsening the rights situation,” read the report.

Nepal had reported the first case of coronavirus in March, when many countries in the world had already been passing through coronavirus crisis and was declared a pandemic.

However, limited number of quarantine and isolation facilities, lack of health workers and life-saving medical equipment like ventilators, poor arrangement of labs and hospitals, low coverage of PCR test, and delay in operation of coronavirus dedicated hospitals contributed to spike in COVID-19 cases, the report read.

The report also says that even though Nepal government implemented nationwide lockdown, the government failed to properly utilise the nationwide lockdown period to prevent and control COVID-19.

As per the report, health workers and frontline staffers did not have access to personal protective equipment (PPEs). Also, cases of gender-based violence increased during the lockdown period and all three-level of government did not adopt any effective measures to prevent and control such kind of incidents.

Similarly, differently-abled people, senior citizens, pregnant women and infants, children and other vulnerable groups were most affected by the pandemic and their rights were deteriorated.

The government was not up to the mark to strictly implement ‘Standard on Operation and Management of Quarantine for COVID-19’ for providing basic amenities to quarantined persons. Many institutional quarantine centres lacked basic amenities and skilled human resources and necessary medical equipment such as oxygen cylinders and ventilators.

The report also expressed serious concern about deteriorating situation of thousands of daily wagers in Kathmandu valley, patients requiring medical check-up and follow-up and people taking a long walk home amid the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government.

The NHRC had formed a monitoring committee in each province to monitor various issues, including government’s performance in the fight against COVID-19, arrangement of medical treatment, consumer rights, freedom of expression, access to justice and civic duties during the ongoing crisis.

“The government failed to stop production and supply of substandard goods, food adulteration, overcharging and black-marketing,” read the report.