The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) has formed a team to monitor the status of coronavirus infection across the country and implementation of the government’s latest steps to control the virus’s spread.

After the government was criticized for deciding to charge people for COVID test and treatment, a team led by chief health expert Mahendra Shrestha has been sent at the local levels to listen to and collect the grievances of residents as well as people’s representatives.

The team is also tasked with the responsibility of scanning the procedure of contact tracing and home isolation at the local levels.

“We are inspecting whether the identification and management of the infected are being done according to MoHP’s guidelines and also listening to the complaints that local might have,” Shrestha said adding, “The complaints collected from the local levels will help in improving the government’s policies. As of yet, many people’s representatives have suggested that the government should resume free treatment and testing of COVID patients.”

Mayor of Budhanilkantha municipality, Uddhav Kharel said, “We have informed the inspecting team from the ministry that contact tracing has been stopped in our area as we have to pay for PCR tests.”

Kharel said that the municipality had decided to provide Rs 4,000 to the infected people living in home isolation but could not implement it as the number of infected increased rapidly.

The people’s representatives of Dakshinkali municipality, on the other hand, are disappointed that Shrestha’s team had dumped all COVID-related responsibilities to the local levels instead of the federal government.

“A team from the ministry said that PCR tests and treatment of the infected should be done at our own expense,” said Basanti Tamang, deputy mayor of the city, adding, “As the federal government has started charging fee for PCR tests, we are about to set up our own lab to do PCR tests. Also, we have decided to insure the people to ease medical expenses.”

According to Tamang, it is estimated that there are more than 55,000 people in Dakshinkali who are willing to fill insurance form.

After the government started charging for contact tracing, the local government of Dakshinkali encountered zero testing at the local level during Dashain.

Chandragiri Municipality Mayor Ghanshyam Giri said, “After the government decided to charge for PCR tests, we were initially unable to conduct the tests of persons who had come in close contact with infected ones. But now, we have bought kits at the local level’s expense and we are providing free PCR tests to 25 contact traced people daily at the Armed Police Force hospital,” he said.

After MoHP stepped-out from taking charge to avert COVID-related crisis, the teams assigned to listen to people’s grievances at the local levels urged that the municipalities in Kathmandu Valley make arrangements for free treatment of COVID-19 patients by managing budget from other development projects.

While MoHP has deployed Shrestha to monitor COVID and contact tracing situation at the local levels, ministry expert Dr Roshan Pokharel has been given the responsibility to find solutions to the problems related to management of infected people at hospitals.
Similarly, Director General of Health Service Department Dr Dipendra Man Singh has been given the responsibility to submit a report on how to make necessary health equipment and information management effective.