An additional 2,942 cases of coronavirus infection across Nepal, including 1,698 in Kathmandu valley were reported on Sunday. With this, Nepal’s COVID-19 caseload has reached 132,246, including 39,341 active cases, 92,166 recoveries and 739 deaths.

As many as 21,093 active COVID cases are in Kathmandu valley alone.

Meanwhile, speaking at a press briefing on the same day, Spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population Jageshwor Gautam, announced the government’s decision not to foot cost of COVID-19 test and treatment.

He added that decision will be effective from today and will be applicable at all government and non-government hospitals as well as laboratories.

“The government however will bear the cost of those who are poor, helpless, single women, differently-able citizens, senior citizens, frontline health workers, sanitation staffers and security personnel. Those who have insured themselves, the cost of their treatment will be deducted from their insurance amount,” said Gautam.

For the rest, individuals themselves should bear the cost of test and treatment of the coronavirus infection.

The Health Ministry’s decision comes 18 days after the Supreme Court ordered the government to conduct PCR test and treatment of all people free of cost.

The apex court, observing that COVID-19 was an infectious disease and as per legal provisions everybody had the right to get free diagnosis and treatment for the disease, on October 1 had made the ruling.

“Since the government has not been able to distribute poverty certificates to poor citizens, it is unclear how the government will determine who are poor and helpless. The government’s latest decision does not help in achieving equality and social justice, as promised, but it rather contributes to the disease’s spread as many will not be able to afford to get neither tested nor treated,” said senior public health expert Dr Sharad Wanta.

The government is gradually backing out from its responsibilities with decisions being announced in installments. Before this, Gautam on October 18 had announced that family members of those who die of COVID-19 in home isolation have to manage their funeral.

On October 7, Gautam requested COVID-19 patients to not visit hospitals unless their condition is critical. He said, “If one has trouble breathing, falls unconscious or feels like they’ll faint, and if they can’t pass urine, only then should the patients go to a hospital.”