Personal tools
You are here: Home News Analysis and Views Economic Impact of Covid-19
Navigation
Log in


Forgot your password?
 

Economic Impact of Covid-19

Issue March 2020

 Economic Impact of Covid-19

Siddhi B. Ranjitkar


Coronavirus in the abbreviation is covid-19 reportedly originated at the wild animal market in Wuhan: the capital of the Hubei province in the People’s Republic of China probably in December 2019 but the provincial police and the administration attempted to cover it up forcing the doctor who first discovered the strange flue like disease that did not recover, and he posted it on the social media stating it looked like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome  (SARS), and he warned the colleagues to be careful, to sign off on the paper that he would not further publicized the message, and the administration even charged the doctor with trying to spread the false information. The result had been disaster not only to China but the world itself as the entire populace of the world had been in alert to be ready for fighting against the new killer disease that cold spread across the world.

 

Unfortunately, the doctor who had reportedly alerted his colleagues contracted the disease and died leaving the pregnant spouse behind. And some other doctors and health workers also contracted the disease and died in China. More than three thousand Chinese had died and more than one hundred thousands had contracted the dieses and fifty thousands of them had been recovered from the disease in China. Covid-19 had been under control in China. The Chinese authorities had been careful not to let in China any foreigners with the coronavirus.

 

However, covid-19 had been spreading fast in Italy and Iran significantly while slowly in the western world including Australia. A number of cases of covid-19 cases had been reported in UK, USA, Australia and even India. Reportedly, a Chinese worker with the virus sneaked in Italy and caused to spread the disease fast killing almost 233 by March 8, 2020, forty-nine people on March 6, 2020. Italy declared a state of emergency, and isolated Lombardy in the northern Italy where 16 million were lockdown. The number of dead in Iran had been climbing and the number was reaching one hundred by March 7, 2020. Even the advisor to the FM had contracted the disease and died. Iran also purportedly initially attempted to cover up the cases of covid-19 causing so many casualties in a short time. The death toll in the USA had reached 17 on Friday, March 6, 2020. South Korea had a number of coronavirus death.

 

The BBC news on March 7, 2020 stated that the BBC's Rome correspondent Mark Lowen tweeted that a resident in the quarantined Italian town of Codogno told him that funerals are not being permitted for coronavirus victims because of the need to limit gatherings. The Vatican said that it was considering the Pope deliver his Angelus address on Sunday via video, rather than from a window at the Vatican to avoid drawing a large crowd. The Pope, who has been suffering from a cold, recently tested negative for the coronavirus, Italian media reported

 

Italy had the largest number of coronavirus cases in Europe and it reported a spike in infections on Saturday, March 7, 2020. It decided to isolate Lombardy and 14 other central and northern provinces with the population of 16 million people; the folks living those areas would need a special permit to travel, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said. He also said that schools, gyms, museums, nightclubs and other venues would remained closed across the country until April 3, 2020, the news on https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51787238 stated on March 8, 2020.

 

The BBC news on March 7, 2020 stated that in California, 21 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed on the Grand Princess cruise ship that was held off the coast near San Francisco; the cruise liner was a sister ship of the Diamond Princess, which was the scene of a major coronavirus outbreak while moored in Japan; US Vice President Mike Pence said the Grand Princess would be sent to a non-commercial dock over the weekend where all its 3,533 passengers and crew would be tested.

 

The World Bank had allocated $ 12 billion and IMF $ 50 billion, and USA $ 8.3 billion of emergency funding for propping up the less advantageous countries in fighting against the covid-19. How much China had spent its money and other resources in combating the disease was not available, yet. China had built temporary hospitals to accommodate the covid-19 patients, and then the hospitals had been wound down after the virus had been under its control.

 

After the fast spread of covid-19, China came to a standstill to keep in check the disease from spreading. Factories, universities, schools, businesses, and social gatherings and other gatherings were effectively banned. National and international airlines stopped their planes flying in and out of China. Folks remained at home. How much a decline in the Chinese economy had been not known, yet. However, the Chinese exports fell by 17.2% in January-February from the same period in 2019 had made it clear the adverse impact of the corona virus on the Chinese economy and global supply chains, the BBC news on March 7, 2020 stated

 

Some factories in Japan were closed because of not getting parts from China. Similarly, some factories in the USA had to reduce the production because of not having the parts from China. How much European manufacturing sector had suffered from not having the parts from China was not reported in the media. Australian farmers had to sell the crabs dirt cheap at the home market, as China stopped importing the Australian crabs. How much economic damage had been done to Australia to be assessed, yet

 

For fear of not having the supplies, folks in the USA, Australian and other countries had started off buying foodstuffs and other essentials emptying the shelves and racks at the supermarkets. Folks had been stockpiling the toilet papers, facemasks, and other essentials concerned with the possibility of the short supply of these items. India had stopped exporting 13 medicines. Nepal had officially urged the Indian government to lift the ban on exporting the medicines, the state media reported.

 

Major events had been cancelled for avoiding the mass gatherings obviously for fear of having the fast spread of covid-19, as nobody might be able to check everybody for the virus. One person might spread it to a lot of folks coming in contact with him or her. “The city of Austin (Texas) canceled South by Southwest (SXSW music and tech) festival on Friday citing the risk of coronavirus spreading among the hundreds of thousands attendees, who flock to the event each year,” The Washington Post reported on March 7, 2020. Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi canceled the EU-meeting, as the coronavirus cases had been increasing in Europe, as the Indian media reported.

 

The world media reported that coronavirus had hit the entertainment sector, social and religious sector, and the education sector hard. Almost all the Chinese movie theaters and other theaters had been closed after the spread of coronavirus in Wuhan. Churches were closed in South Korea, and in other countries, too. Schools and campuses were closed elsewhere in the world.

 

Another sector hit hard had been the air transport sector. All the airlines in the world had a few passengers transporting from one country to another, as folks had canceled the foreign tours. Airports elsewhere in the world had been having fewer travelers. Airport carousels had been running without baggage. Some airlines had grounded their planes. Airline workers had been furloughed.

 

Hotel and Restaurant industry had to take the hit from the coronavirus, too, as the people traveling from one country to another had drastically reduced. Hoteliers had to send their staff on leave without pay.

 

Preventive measures had been to avoid the person-to-person contact. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had advised to clasp hands in the style of “namaskar” rather than shaking hands. Some head of State touched each other’s legs avoiding the handshakes. The US President demonstrated how to wash hands, and the UK prime minister advised to wash hands as often as possible.

 

World Health Organization (WHO) had declared that the South Asia was at high-risk from coronavirus. Nepal had been placed on alert. The government had advised the people not to hold any public gatherings. Political parties had suspended their public events. China had isolated the entire the Hubei province. That might be the reason why the virus did not spread. However, the virus had made the way to the different countries including Nepal where one case of covid-19 was confirmed but no death occurred.

 

The government of United Arab Emirates (UAE) had sent back 30 Nepalis traveling to Bahrain via UAE for the foreign employments stating Nepal was at the high risk of coronavirus, the Foreign Ministry of Nepal stated; the Nepal government urged all Nepalis not to travel to foreign countries except for the most essential cases, as the World Health Organization (WHO) announced Nepal at the high risk zone of the coronavirus; the news published on the front page of “Artha Bazaar” on March 3, 2020 stated.

 

The Nepal government had taken preventive measures timely and firmly. Nepal suspended the provision for the on-arrival visa to the five countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, and Italy effective on March 10; it would also be applicable to France, Germany and Spain in a few days. Nepal set up a health unit at the international airport to test the possible coronavirus among the passengers, and at the 37 entry points along the border between Nepal and India, and effectively checked the unauthorized entry of the folks from the northern border points, too, the state media reported.

 

The Provincial Health Directorate of the Province Number Five set up health checkup desks at the four border entry points: one each at Rani of Biratnagar, Pashupatinagar of Ilam, Kakarbhita of Jhapa, and Bhadrapur entry point of Jhapa in the province; one more health checkup desk was set up at Mechi Bridge entry point of Bhadrapur; one assistance nurse midwife and another assistance health worker would be working two shifts a day, the news published on the front page of “gorkhapatra” on March 8, 2020 stated.

 

The Province Number Two government had set up health checkup desks at 10 major entry points in the seven districts out of the eight districts of the province on the border between Nepal and India and providing the health services to the folks crossing the border; the health checkup desks had been working for twelve hours a day in two shifts, the news published on the front page of “gorkhapatra” on March 8, 2020 stated.

 

Spokesperson for the Karnali province government also Provincial Minister for Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperatives: Bimala KC said that the provincial government had made a decision on Friday, March 6, 2020 on strictly controlling its border points along the Nepal-China border the precautionary measures to prevent and reduce the possibility of the outbreak of Covid-19; and also decided to set up five health checkup desks: one each at Hilsa of Humla, Kapurkot of Salyan, Babai and Kuine of Surkhet and at the Surkhet Airport, the news on https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/karnali-govt-decides-to-seal-entry-points-along-nepal-china-border/ stated on March 7, 2020.

 

Nepal had evacuated 178 Nepali students from the Hubei province in China. They were the Nepalese students studying in China. They along with the crewmembers were isolated at Kharapati in Bhaktapur for 14 days. Their health status was regularly and routinely checked and samples were taken from their throats for the coronavirus tests. None of them found to be contracted with the coronavirus and sent them home after 14 days in isolation.

 

The Nepal government had advised all citizens not to hold any social, religious and political and any other events obviously as the preventive measure against the coronavirus. The government called off the mass celebration of the Holi festival on March 9, 2020. The State media had been creating the awareness of how to be safe from the coronavirus among the citizens. Some of the State-run hospitals had made the isolation wards for treating the patients with the coronavirus. Finance Minister Dr. Khatiwada also holding the portfolio of ministry of communication and information technology said that Nepal had sufficient stock of 13 kinds of medicine India had prohibited to export, and the government would urge the Indian government to lift the embargo on exporting the medicines, the news published on the front page of “gorkhapatra” on March 6, 2020 stated.

 

Facemasks were sold out in the Nepalese market. Even if any facemasks were available the prices had been doubled or even trebled. The State media and the state physicians had been telling the public that the common folks did not need to wear any facemasks; only the physicians needed to wear and the folks who had contracted the covid-19, and the folks taking care of coronavirus patients; even then the sale of facemasks had reached sky high in Nepal.

 

The demand for facemasks, sanitizers and soap had been drastically increased in the Banke district after the physicians advised the common folks to wear masks and wash hands, and wearing masks at schools, and the offices including non-governmental offices made mandatory in the district; and the prices of the masks that had been available at NPR 15 to NPR 30 had jumped to NPR 50 and even to NPR 100, the news on last page of “Artha Bazaar” of “gorkhapatra” on March 7, 2020 stated.

 

The Department of Commerce, Supply And Consumer Protection had urged the common folks to make a call at 1137 to report on anybody charging high prices on masks; and the department had started off monitoring the market in Kathmandu since Tuesday, March 3, 2020; the department had already fined some stores for selling masks at higher prices; the department could punish any stores hiding the masks or charging high prices with the penalty of NPR 300,000 at maximum, the news on the front page of “Artha Bazaar” of “gorkhapatra” on March 7, 2020 stated.

 

The garment industries in the Dang district had started off producing masks in the districts at the reasonable price; one factory could produce about six hundred masks a day; the garment industries had been selling masks at NPR 20 per piece, and the retailers at NPR 30 per piece; one non-governmental organization had been providing the common folks with masks free in Lamahi; it had been possible because of the local production of masks, the news published on the front page of “Artha Bazaar” of “gorkhapatra” on March 8, 2020 stated.

 

The (Nepalese) domestic airlines companies were going to lose almost four billion rupees as the adverse impact of coronavirus on the industry, as the number of the foreign visitors had declined by 40 percent during the first two months of the year 2020, the Airlines Management Association stated; the association also stated the airlines would need to furlough the employees and reduce the benefits given to them; the impact of the coronavirus on the airlines companies would continue for the next six months, the news published on the front page of “Artha Bazaar” of “gorkhapatra” on March 7, 2020 stated.

 

The tourism industry had been in the doldrums after World Health Organization (WHO) declared Nepal was at the high risk zone of the coronavirus; visitors had canceled the advanced bookings; and most of the hotels including five star to small hotels had been empty; hoteliers complained; all the hotels in Chitwan had furlough all their employees keeping only guards at work, the news published on the front page of “gorkhapatra” on March 6, 2020 stated.

 

The resort-town Bandipur had been entirely empty because of the coronavirus; hoteliers had been very concerned with the possibility of the Banks placing them on the blacklist as they would not be able to make the installment payments on the bank loans; the visitors had been less by more than 90 percent: the worst case than what had happened during the earthquakes and then the Indian embargo; another news on the same page stated that the “First Provincial Small Cottage and Industrial Fair” the Nepal Cottage and Small Industry Federation, and the Provincial Women Entrepreneurs Committee Province Number Five had held in Butwal since Wednesday, March 4, 2020 had been badly impacted by the coronavirus, as even after three days of the opening of the exhibition, visitors had been minimum; folks did not visit the “Fair” because of the fear for their safety; the provincial government had urged the folks not to hold any events in the province but the organizers of the “Fair” had not closed it, yet, the news published on the last page of “Artha Bazaar” of “gorkhapatra” on March 7, 2020 stated.

 

Traders had been facing the problem of transporting black cardamom, ginger, and organic brooms from Ilam to India as the Indian transporters refused to take the products after the governments of both Nepal and India urged the common folks not to celebrate the Holi festival in mass for fear of the outbreak of coronavirus consequently causing the fall of the prices of those products; the price of black cardamom had gone down from NPR 28,000 per 100 kg to NPR 26,000 per 100 kg, the price of ginger also had been reduced to NPR 2,500 per 100 kg, which was far lower than used to be, the news published on the front page of “Artha Bazaar” of “gorkhapatra” on March 9, 2020 stated.

 

The industries in Biratnagar had been facing high prices of the raw materials imported from China for producing juice, biscuits, edible oil and noodles because of the outbreak of coronavirus in China causing the problem of importing the raw materials from China, the news published on the last page of “Artha Bazaar” on March 3, 2020 stated.

 

By mid March 2020, Europe had been burning with the Covid-19. Thousands of Italian had lost their lives, hundreds of Spaniards, and French too, tens of British, and so on.

 

Italy and Spain went in lockdown. Probably, France and Germany might soon follow them. Some Italians had sung songs from the balconies and windows to keep themselves lively. Folks had to take special permission to come out of their homes. They would receive the permits only in case of visiting hospitals, and in the case of the urgent need to go out of their homes. Law enforcement people had strictly enforced the lockdown.

 

Germany had closed its frontiers with five countries despite being the member of European and open border among the member countries. Some other countries such as Norway, and Sweden also did the same. Other European countries might follow suit. Only Russia had not reported any cases of covid-19.

 

Covid-19 had gone out of the Iranian Autoyala Khomeini. Satellite pictures had shown that Iran had dug a massive trench obviously to bury the dead from the covid-19. The Iranian official announcement of dead was just above six hundreds but the real death toll had not been known for the known State control of the media.

 

A planeload of Chinese doctors and medics and medicines had reached Italy to douse the burning fire of Covid-19 in Italy. Chinese had already massive experiences in tackling the deadly Covid-19 after losing more than 3,000 Chinese lives to the fatal disease. China had demonstrated how it could help the Europeans to fight against the demonic covid-19. It was also o show that China was already a world leading country that could help any country in case of the need.

 

“The three states bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe have all recorded their highest death tolls for a single day. Italy saw 368 deaths bring its total to 1,809, Spain recorded 97 more deaths for a total of 288, and France reported 29 deaths, giving a total of 120. The UK also saw a single-day record, with 14 new deaths and a total of 35. Governments across Europe have responded by curbing the movements of citizens and tightening borders. The Czech government has introduced stringent lockdown measures: people will be allowed to go to and from work and buy food or medicine, and make urgent family visits, but otherwise free movement will be severely limited from midnight (23:00 GMT) on Sunday (March 15, 2020) until 24 March. Austria is banning gatherings of more than five people from Monday, and the Republic of Ireland is asking pubs to shut until 29 March. Schools will be closed across many European states. Switzerland reported a leap in the number of infections by 800 to reach 2,200 in just 24 hours. The country has recorded 14 deaths,” BBC NEWS stated.

 

President Donald Trump declared a state of national emergency, and prohibited planes flying from Europe to America not specifying the cargo planes causing fear and chaos but immediately he corrected his previous statement saying cargo planes were allowed flying, as the step to deal with the global outbreak of the Covid-19, the media reports stated on March 13, 2020. The covid-19 caused severe short supply of toilet papers and it also emptied the frozen food shelves at the food market in America.

 

 “Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has sent the first shipment of surgical masks and coronavirus test kits to the US. The Chinese billionaire tweeted two pictures of the pallets of goods being loaded on to a plane in Shanghai. Earlier this month he said he would give 500,000 testing kits and one million masks to America. Mr Ma is also sending consignments of medical supplies to Europe as he called for international cooperation efforts to combat the pandemic. In his first tweet, Asia's richest person posted photos of a China Eastern Airlines jet being loaded with boxes of coronavirus test kits and face masks as they were shipped to the US. It comes after the Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation last week announced that they had prepared 500,000 testing kits and 1 million masks to be sent to America. They also said that they had already donated supplies to other countries including Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Spain, with two million protective masks pledged for distribution across Europe. The first consignment of 500,000 masks and other medical supplies such as test kits, which was destined for Italy, arrived in Belgium on Friday,” BBC NEWS stated on March 16, 2020.

 

“Global stock markets have sunk despite central banks around the world announcing a coordinated effort to ease the effects of the coronavirus. London's FTSE 100 share index fell more than 7% in early trade. Earlier, markets in Asia closed sharply lower. On Sunday, the US Federal Reserve cut interest rates to almost zero and launched a $700bn stimulus program. It was part of coordinated action announced alongside the Euro zone, the UK, Japan, Canada, and Switzerland. However, investors are concerned that central banks now have few options left to combat the impact of the pandemic. All the main European share indexes saw big falls, with France's Cac 40 index down nearly 9% and Germany's Dax more than 7% lower Earlier in Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down 2.5%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 4%, and the Shanghai Composite in China ended the day 3.3% lower. Shares in Australia took a huge tumble, recording their biggest daily percentage fall on record as the benchmark ASX 200 index closed 9.7% lower. The Reserve Bank of Australia has said it "stands ready" to pump more money into the country's financial system. Crude oil prices and the US dollar have also fallen on global markets”, BBC NEWS stated on March 16, 2020.

 

“US Fed chairman Jerome Powell said the coronavirus is having a "profound effect"

The falls on share markets come as investors worry that the world's biggest central banks may now have very little ammunition left to deal with the effects of the coronavirus if the global economic climate continues to worsen. "They pulled out whatever weapons they had and my sense is I think it may help initially but I don't think it goes much further because this is still a developing issue. They used up basically all their ammunition and we're down to sticks and stones," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at Slatestone Wealth. Earlier the US Federal Reserve cut its interest rates by 100 basis points to a target range of 0% to 0.25% and said it would offer at least $700bn for support to the markets in the coming weeks. Speaking after the announcement Fed chairman Jerome Powell said, "The virus is having a profound effect." The Bank of Japan also eased monetary policy by pledging to buy risky assets at double the current pace and announced a new loan program to extend one-year, zero-rate loans to financial institutions. Alongside the Fed, five other central banks - the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of Canada, and the Swiss National Bank - also announced measures to make it easier to provide dollars to their financial institutions facing stress in credit markets. The move was designed to bring down the price banks and companies pay for US dollars, which has surged in recent weeks. Andrew Sentance, a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, which sets interest rates, told the BBC's Today program that banks were acting to ensure enough credit was flowing. "There was some criticism around the financial crisis that central banks didn't move quickly enough," he said. "I see this as a partly precautionary action for central banks to show that they are doing as much as possible to keep the wheels of the economy turning." Mr Sentance added that any further cut to the base rate in the UK, to 0.10% for example, would be "symbolic, because it wouldn't have that much impact on companies or individuals". On Monday, New Zealand's central bank lowered interest rates by 75 basis points as it prepared for a "significant" hit to the economy. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand Governor Adrian Orr said the virus was expected to have a severe impact on the economy over the coming year”, BBC NEWS stated on March 16, 2020.

 

(Finance Minister Dr. Khatiwada needed to read this news for him to understand how to save the stock market. since he took office the Nepalese stock market had been sick to death. It could not recover so far)

 

“Mount Everest has shut down for the rest of the expedition season because of the coronavirus outbreak. Nepal's government announced that it would cancel all climbing permits from 14 March until 30 April. China had already cancelled expeditions from the northern, Chinese-controlled, side of the mountain. According to the Kathmandu Post, Nepal earns $4m (£3.1m) by issuing Everest climbing permits every year, aside from wider tourism revenue. "We have decided to halt all tourist visas until 30 April," said Narayan Prasad Bidari, Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office. "As of now, all issued permits and permits yet to be issued for the 2020 Everest season will be cancelled." It also advised foreigners who were unable to avoid coming to Nepal from 14 March to stay in quarantine for 14 days. Most climbers come from the US, India, China, UK, Japan, and South Korea - and are a major source of revenue for the Nepalese government. Typically, anyone who wants to climb Everest needs to pay the government $11,000 (£8,700), though there were talks by the government to raise this figure. And that's not including fees that are typically paid to the travel companies, which can also run up tens of thousands. Local sherpas who work as mountain guides will also be affected. "My nine Chinese clients and a Japanese client have cancelled already. Many trekking teams are not coming, which is a big loss for sherpas like us who make most of our money during this time," Lakpa Sherpa, managing director of Pioneer Adventure, told BBC Nepali,” BBC NEWS stated on March 13, 2020.

 

“Ghana has banned public gatherings including conferences, funerals, political rallies and religious activities after confirming four new coronavirus cases. Funerals attended by less than 25 people are exempted from President Akufo-Addo's order. All universities and schools have also been closed indefinitely. The ban on gatherings will be in force for four weeks starting 16 March. President Nana Akufo-Addo in a late night address on Sunday said the new measures are "in the interest of public safety and protection of our [Ghanaian] population," BBC NEWS stated on March 16, 2020.

 

“Sudan says a man in his 50s who died on Thursday in the capital, Khartoum, had coronavirus, confirming the country's first case. The man had visited the UAE in the first week of March, health authorities said. Sudan has stopped issuing visas for, and flights to, eight countries, including Italy and neighboring Egypt, over fears of the coronavirus outbreak. Bus trips to Egypt have also been suspended. Egypt was the first country in Africa to confirm a case of coronavirus. It has recorded two deaths and now has at least 80 cases,” BBC NEWS stated.

 

“A senior member of the Australian government, home affairs minister Peter Dutton, has tested positive for coronavirus, he said on Friday. Mr Dutton, who sits on the national security committee, said he woke up with a "temperature and sore throat". He said he immediately contacted his local health department in Queensland and is now in hospital. There are currently 156 confirmed cases in Australia, including US actor Tom Hanks, who is in Queensland. Hanks is there with his wife Rita Wilson - who also has the virus - to make a film about Elvis Presley. "This morning I woke up with a temperature and sore throat. I feel fine and will provide an update in due course," said Mr Dutton on Twitter. "It is the policy of Queensland Health that anyone who tests positive is to be admitted into hospital and I have complied with their advice." Mr Dutton had on Thursday been asked why people entering Australia weren't being tested. He said it was not possible to test everyone coming into the country. "For 99% of people there's no issue," he said, according to radio station 4BC. Mr Dutton recently traveled to Washington DC for a meeting on child sexual exploitation. While there, he met President Trump's daughter, Ivanka,” BBC NEWS stated on March 13, 2020.

 

“Everyone arriving in Israel will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says. "All those coming to Israel from abroad will be placed in isolation," he said in a video address posted to Twitter. Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said the measure would be effective immediately for all Israelis returning to the country. It will apply to foreign citizens from Thursday, he added. The move means that foreign arrivals will have to prove that they have adequate accommodation to be quarantined during their stay in the country,” BBC NEWS stated on March 9, 2020.

 

On Sunday, March 15, 2020, the heads of state of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) had held a videoconference on tackling the possible outbreak of covid-19 that had been currently rising exponentially in Europe, and it had been causing the deaths in hundreds every day. Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi committed US$ 10 million for a common fund to cope with the covid-19. Others had not committed anything so far. SAARC member countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri-lanka. WHO had labeled the South Asia as the high-risk area of the covid-19 infection.

 

Nepal also had made mandatory 14-day isolation for the visitors entering the country from air. They have to stay home in self-isolation. The State employees would monitory their health condition and the isolation. Folks entering Nepal by the surface transport were checked at every entry point for their health status. The Local and provincial governments had been actively working on monitoring the folks entering the country by land.

 

Short supply of daily needs and essential goods had been felt in Kathmandu. Motorcyclists had lined up for a few liters of petrol at every petrol pump but the Oli administration had been saying that the supply of goods and services had been as regular as at any time. Nepal Police had raided a warehouse and found more than one hundred thousands of facemasks stored for selling at high prices. The Attorney General had ordered the police to sell the masks at the regular price and deposit the proceeds at the special bank account, the media reports stated on March 16, 2020.

 

The following news quotes are from the BBC NEWS posted on March 17, 2020.

 

“The US president sent a tweet on Monday (March 16, 2020) describing the coronavirus - which causes the disease Covid-19 - as the “Chinese virus”. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against linking the virus to any particular area or group, due to the risk of stigmatization. However, a number of US administration officials have referred to it as the Chinese virus. Meanwhile, Mr. Pompeo has repeatedly referred to the “Wuhan virus”.

 

Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said the tweet amount to “stigmatization of China”. "We urge the US to correct its mistake and stop its groundless accusations against China,” he added. China’s official news agency, Xinhua, said Mr. Trump’s language was “racist and xenophobic” and revealed “politicians' irresponsibility and incompetence”, risking increasing fears over the virus. There was also criticism from within the US, with New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio saying the phrase risked “fuelling more bigotry” against Asian Americans.

 

The first cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. However, last week a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman shared a conspiracy theory, alleging the US Army had brought it to the region. The unfounded accusation led US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to demand China stop spreading “disinformation” as it tried “to shift blame” for the outbreak.”

 

Nepal has so far apparently none of the covid-19 cases but the experts’ opinions differed from what the Oli administration had been doing and saying. Speaking to the anchor of the “Antar-sambad” program of “Radio Nepal” on March 18, 2020, Dr. Samir and Chairman of PABSON Mr. Umesh Shrestha revealed what the precautionary measures had to be taken and what the Oli administration had been doing had been not to the standard requirements. Dr. Samir said that allocating an isolation ward with a few beds in some regular hospitals was surely hazardous, as the covid-19 patients would spread the virus to other patients in the hospitals; so separate hospitals designed for the covid-19 patients were required. Concerning the no-cases of covid-19, Dr. Samir said that the adequate tests had not be performed so the covid-19 cases must have been escaped from detection, as so many visitors and Nepalis had been returning from the covid-19 infected countries to Nepal. Chairman Umesh Shrestha said that the government had been holding the SEE examinations bringing hundreds of thousands of students to the examination centers, the government had not closed the schools, and had not stopped the public events from holding.

 

The BBC NEWS story concerning Amazon posted on March 17, 2020 stated as follow.

 

Workers at Amazon's UK warehouses have to work overtime to cope with the huge demand for goods due to the coronavirus pandemic despite government calls to restrict social contact. Amazon said it was working to ensure the delivery of goods to the customers. Some employees must work additional hours as requested by an employer if their contract says so. They said that there is extra pressure on the workforce to deal with an influx of goods the company is bringing to meet the spike in demand. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the company had ramped up shifts across the UK. They said: "As demand continues to increase, we are working to ensure we can continue to deliver to the most-impacted customers while keeping our people safe". "Many of these customers have no other way to get essential items and we want to be sure that we have the right resources in place to deliver on their needs. "Starting this week, we'll be prioritizing the intake and dispatch of items most needed by our customers right now. These are items such as food, health and personal care products, items needed to work from home, books and toys for children.” Amazon has said it will hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers in the United States to deal with the surge in sales due to pandemic. The online retail giant also said it would increase pay for its staff in the UK, US and Europe. Amazon said it would increase hourly wages by $2 in the US, £2 in the UK, and €2 in Europe. The company said it expects the pay rises expected to cost it more than $350m (£285m).

 

The BBC NEWS story ended here.

 

The nationwide Secondary Education Examination (SEE) was scheduled to hold on March 19, 2020. More than five hundred thousands students participate in this examination. Up until morning of March 18, 2020, the minister for education had said that the SEE would be held as scheduled. However, on the eve of the SEE, the minister for education declared that it was postponed until the further notice in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The minister also stated that a new schedule for holding the examination would be set in consultation with the WHO making clear that the Nepal government must have made the decisions on preventive measures to protect the citizens from the possible outbreak of Covid-19 under pressure.

 

On March 18, 2020, the meeting of High Level Coordination Committee on Control, and Prevention of Outbreak of Covid-19 Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokharel presided over made the following decisions, the news published on the front page of “gorkhapatra” on March 19, 2020 stated.

 

1 Secondary Education Examination (SEE) was postponed until the further notice.

 

2 All universities and schools remain closed until April 12. 2020.

 

3 Movie theaters, cultural centers, stadiums, sports and gyms, health clubs, museums, swimming pools, dance bar and clubs, entertainment areas remain closed until April 30, 2020.

 

4 The government has cautioned the citizens not to assemble more than 25 persons at the cultural, social events, at any party palaces, and religious shrines, the transporters not to carry more passengers than the public transport vehicles are allowed, the citizens not to travel in crowd, and not to come out of homes, and walk except for in the case of the dire necessity.

 

5 Folks from all Europe, West Asia and Gulf countries, Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan are prohibited to enter Nepal effective on March 20, 2020 until April 15, 2020. This prohibition is applicable to the visitors coming through those countries.

 

6 Visa for the foreign visitors, who could not travel back home from Nepal due to the travel ban would be regularized.

 

7 Airlines were instructed to refund the entire amount of the tickets of the visitors scheduled for the air travel during the “travel advisory” period, and not to charge any fees for rescheduling the travel.

 

8 Also instructed to disinfect the public places where folks assemble, and the public transport vehicles daily, and to make available hand sanitizers at hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls.

 

9 Strong actions would be taken against the traders, who would cause the price rise exorbitantly, and create artificial shortage.

 

10 Strong actions would be taken against the media and reporters and individuals that would publicize the false information on the Covid-19.

 

Human activities had been drastically reduced in Kathmandu. Most of the folks coming from the hills and Terai had gone back home for the fear of Covid-19, and for the fear of not having adequate supplies. Road traffic had been at minimum. However, the State media and the ministers had been parroting that no short supply of essential goods had been but a large number of motorbikes lined up for a few liters of goalie at each gas station. Provisions stores had sold out rice, and they had run out of other foodstuff such as sugar and salt. Vegetables and other perishable goods had been cheaper, as demands had reduced due to the return of the folks from the Kathmandu Valley to their respective areas.

 

Folks working at hotels, restaurant, airlines and other service sectors had gone back home, as most of them except for the guards had been on the unpaid leave. So, the incoming buses had a few passengers while outgoing buses had been crowded with passengers. They could not survive in Kathmandu not having jobs, as the house rent was so high, and they had to pay high prices for the foods and drinks. Once, schools, colleges and universities were closed then students could go home, too. Thus, the economy of the Kathmandu Valley might go down drastically, and of the nation, too.

 

The Hyatt Hotel suspended its services; the Manakamna cable car also temporarily suspended its services, as the Manakamna Mandir was closed effective on March 20; the Radio Nepal stated in its morning news on March 20, 2020. Kathmandu Metropolitan office posted a notice stating Sankata “Padmantak Aju” was closed for the public in view of the Covid-19 effective on March 20, 2020. Patan Zoo was closed; Pahanchare Jatra would not be held in Kathmandu, and Jatras in other parts of the Kathmandu Valley mostly held in April also might not be held, the Ujyaalo FM Radio stated in its 10 AM Nepal Bhasha news on March 20, 2020. More than 4,000 devotees visited Manakamna everyday. Almost 3,000 folks visited Patan Zoo every day.

 

Against this current backdrop in Kathmandu and elsewhere in Nepal, Finance Minister Dr. Khatiwada holding the portfolio of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology also the spokesman for the government told the reporters at the press conference held in Kathmandu on March 19, 2020 that the contribution of the tourism to the national economy was only three percent; so, the economic impact would be to that proportion only, the news published on the front page of “gorkhapatra” stated on March 20, 2020.

 

Nobody could say that Finance Minister Dr. Khatiwada did not understand the macro economy but folks might say that Dr. Khatiwada was definitely trying to misinform the public, as nobody would surely believe that the economic impact of the Covid-19 would only be to the extent of three percent. The simple arithmetic is that all the staffs of the Hyatt must have been temporarily laid off; similarly all the staffs of Manakamna cable car must have gone home; so many folks have been going home from Kathmandu surely because of the shutdown of many factories, offices and other service agencies; the closure of party palaces, as the assembly of more than 25 folks was prohibited; the public transport in Kathmandu has been drastically reduced; folks have stopped going out making the taxi service at minimum.

 

Finance Minister Dr. Khatiwada certainly knew that all these public activities contributed to the national economy. He also might know that slowdown of all these activities would surely badly affect the national economy. So, it would not be only three percent of the tourism industry but also the entire economy would be adversely affected due to the Covid-19. Also Dr. Khatiwada must have listened to the radio or watch the TV news or even facebook and other social media, which had been widely stating that the world economy would slow down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Dr. Khatiwada has taken the economic impact of the Covid-19 easy stating it had affected only tourism industry and it contributed only three percent to the national economy.

 

Let us see how the closure of the Sankata: “Padmantak Aju” shrine for the visitors would influence the national economy. Devotees visiting the deity did not need to carry any items of offerings, as they could buy a green-leaf bowl full of items of offerings such as flower, incense, a butter lamp, a fresh coconut, vermillion, rice, black beans and so on.

 

Once, the shrine was closed the vendors of those items of offerings lost the jobs. Then, the producers of the green-leaf bowls lost the market; the flower growers find the sluggish market of their products; incense sellers find the low sale of the incense; butter lamp makers would have no market; fresh coconuts would not be sold. Even a single shrine closure has such an influence on the economic activities of the common folks. When the activities of the entire population come to a minimum then the negative economic impact would be not just three percent of the tourism industry but would be beyond the imagination of the finance minister.

 

Finance Minister Dr. Khatiwada holding the portfolio of the spokesman for the government told the reporters at the press conference held in Kathmandu on March 19, 2020, “the revenue collection had been low because of the import decline. The revenue collection in the Fagu month had improved; we collected 35 to 36 percent VAT. We collected more than 30 income tax,” the news published on the front page of “gorkhapatra” stated on March 20, 2020.

 

Collecting revenues and reducing imports would alone not improve the economy of any country. If the finance minister were really a development economist then he would say that fewer imports were the indication of the slowdown of the economic activities. However, Finance Minister Dr. Khatiwada had been very happy to see the imports going down.

 

Anybody could guess why the economy of Nepal could not take off, and Nepal had remained the least developed country, as the so-called economist as Dr. Khatiwada had been the vice-chairman of National Planning Commission, and he also had been the governor of the State Bank of Nepal called Nepal Rastriya Bank; currently, he is the finance minister. How could such a person like Dr. Khatiwada formulate a realistic socio-economic policy and implement when he worked as the governor and the vice-chairman of the national Planning Commission? His national economic policy has be disaster to the economy, which has been going downhill since he took office.

 

The US administration had programmed to use one trillion dollars as the stimulus to its economy; it has also allocated small amount to help the developing countries to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. “Administrator Mark Green announced USAID will commit an additional $62 million to address the Covid-19 pandemic. The Agency had already committed $37 million to help developing countries affected by or at high-risk for the pandemic. This funding covers heightened risk-communications and engagement with local communities; prevention and control of infection in health facilities; increasing laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity; case management; screening at points of entry; and global and regional coordination.” Addressing the Global threat of Cpvid-19 Head-on, March 20, 2020.

 

The World Bank has allocated $14 billion to counter negative effective of the Covid-19 in the world economy. “The covid-19 pandemic is not only a health crisis. The jobs and livelihoods of people around the world are also under threat. An increased $14 billion package will support a fast, flexible response to Covid-19. The package will help support companies, strengthen health systems and improve disease surveillance.” World Bank Group March 20, 2020 stated.

 

I woke up with lockdown on March 24, 2020. The Oli administration had taken this measure with the pressure from the WHO. Previously, the Oli administration had not been so serious about Covid-19 but WHO had been worrying about the South Asia, as the State administrations of all the states of this region had no ability to cope with the outbreak of Covid-19 if it were to happen. So, the preventive measures had to be taken before any epidemic of the virus were to happen; that was what the WHO had been. The lockdown in Nepal would continue until March 31, 2020.

 

I grabbed my radio and switched on to the FM Radio. Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali was talking to the anchor of Rishi Dhamala. The minister was very serious about what the administration was preparing for. In case if the country would need any medicines or tools or kits, the Oli administration bracing up to bring such items with a chartered plane from any country, he said. He urged the country fellows to remain at home, and those Nepalis were in foreign countries to keep on staying where they were, and those fellows who had been already in the country to stay on in self-isolation.

 

Then, I switched on to the Radio Nepal seven o’clock morning news. The newscaster was talking to Deputy Prime Minister also Chairman of High Level Coordination Committee on Control, and Prevention: Ishwor Pokharel, who told that the country was certainly not prepared for the epidemic of Covid-19; so the administration was doing everything possible to fight against the possible outbreak of Covis-19.

 

The newscaster then turned to Finance Minister also the spokesman for the government: Dr. Yubraj Khatiwada, and asked him what the current administration was going to do when America announced that the State would provide every laborer $1,000 dollar whereas India was providing one thousand rupees. Dr. Khatiwada avoided the question rather told what the administration had been doing to fight the corona virus.

 

Then the newscaster said that the cabinet meeting the prime minister presided over on March 23, 2020 decided to contribute the amount of one-month salary of every minister to the “Coronavirus Pandemic And Control And Remedy Fund,” the president announced that she would contribute the amount of the two-month salary, and anybody could contribute any amount to the fund. If the past history of such a fund or collection the administration had met for the victims of the floods or earthquakes then the real sufferers did never get anything as publicized. Even the concerned minister and his secretary cashed in the huge purchases of tents, tarpaulin, and other items the earthquake victims needed.

 

The police had forced all stores including the stores of daily necessities. So, the total lockdown was a success on March 24, 2020. The farmers in Bhaktapur distributed their vegetables gratis to the folks, as they could not sell the products due to the total lockdown. The police had taken some folks violating the lockdown into custody.

 

Then, the state-run newspaper “gorkhapatra’ published the news that the home ministry urging the store owners of the daily essential goods to keep open the stores so that the foods and foods products would not be in short supply. The ministry even urged the medicine stores to keep their stores open twenty hours a day.

 

Some lawyers said that the state needed to make sure that the folks in lockdown should receive adequate foods and drinks in time, according to the natural law. That might be the reason why the home ministry urged the retailers of the daily needs to keep their stores open. The police needed to ensure that the folks buying and selling the essential goods kept at the safe distance from each other so that they would not risk contamination from the coronavirus.

 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the address to the nation at 8:00 PM Indian standard time on March 24, 2020 declared the lockdown from the midnight March 25, 2020 to April 14, 2020 to save the entire 1.3 billion Indians from Covid-19. He did not mention how the folks would have the foods and drinks during this lockdown. The hardest-hit folks would be the street vendors, daily wage earners, and micro businesses that had to sell and buy daily for their survival. Probably, Modi must have thought about it. His administration would provide one thousand rupees to each laborer, and some relief to the senior citizens and so on. How his administration would manage the distribution of this handouts, and how the folks on the streets would survive the 21-day stay-at-home was the open question Modi had left.

 

The Department of Health Service, Teku published a notice titled “A Very Important Notice Concerning the Covid-19 Prevention And Management Supplies” on the front page of “gorkhapatra” on March 25, 2020 asking the competent suppliers to be present at the Ministry of Health and Population, Ramshahpath, Kathmandu at 1:00 PM on the same day of the notice publication with the proposal of fair prices of the supplies given on the website www.dohslmd.gov.np. Patan Health Science Academy also published a similar notice on the fifth page of “gorkhapatra” on the same day (March 25, 2020).

 

This had been a standard practice of the State administration to buy anything urgently needed to cope with any emergency possibly for avoiding any regular practices required to follow the Public Procurement Act even though the Act gave the purchases sufficient leverage to manipulate prices, supply and delivery of items required. Bypassing the standard procedures of the public procurements had been standard practice in the past and current administration. This virus infected the state administration; and it had been deadlier than the covid-19.

 

Now, the question is why the Oli has been waiting for the last minute to procure the medicines, kits, equipment, protective gear, and other supplies to fight against the covid-19 pandemic when the administration knew even two months ago when the covid-19 had been making news from China, Japan, South Korea and other countries and the coronavirus made its way to Italy and then Spain and other European countries so fast that it could visit South Asia at any time, as the WHO officials had been warning the South Asian countries.

 

Another question is what the Oli administration is doing to mitigate the impact of the deadly virus on the entire economy of the country, and nothing has come out of the Oil administration so far. Street vendors, vegetable vendors, and surely the producers felt the immediate impact of the lockdown the Oli administration declared. Daily laborers could not go to work. If they had to live on the daily wages they would have hard time to survive, as they could not earn anything because of the lockdown, and even if they had some leftover money they could not buy the supplies, as the stores are closed, too. However, on the second day of the lockdown some provision stores and vegetable markets were opened.

 

The news posted on “The Washington Post” on March 25, 2020 stated, “The US Senate passed $2 trillion economic rescue package designed to be a lifeline to Americans and their employees until the novel coronavirus is brought under control.” It made to shot up the share prices at the stock market. WHO has warned that America could be another epicenter of the virus. One governor after another has been issuing the stay-at-home order to keep the citizen safe from the virus as of March 25, 2020.

 

The virus had pushed up the worldwide demand for the masks, sanitizers, medical kits, gloves, safety gears, and ventilators to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus. After the lockdown, the demand for the Internet service had been doubled. The virus had given the Chinese State officials the opportunity for buying the shares in the foreign-owned companies at dirt-cheap prices when the fast spreading virus panicked the shareholders. China has the chances of manufacturing all the items required for combating the virus, and of supplying to the world at cost. Spain placed an order for the materials worth $466 million required for fighting against covid-19, Al Jazeera TV news stated.

 

The coronavirus had forced some jails to release thousands of inmates to keep them safe in America. Covid-19 had already infected more than 85,000 American causing the death of 1,290 as of March 27, 2020. WHO had warned of America could be the epicenter of the epidemic of the covid-19. The virus has been burning down Europe causing unprecedented death. Italy has already lost 8,281 to the virus, and it has more than 80,000 infections; and the Italian administration has lost any hope of containing the virus, as of March 27, 2020.

 

US President Donald Trump had signed into law the bill on $2 trillion coronavirus relief package after the House of Representatives passed it. Following the law, the Internal Revenue Service will send a check $1,200 or deposit the amount in the accounts of the individuals with the adjusted gross income up to $75,000 a year, and the reduced amounts to the individuals with the income up to $99,000 (the payment falls at $5 per $100 income above $75,000); married couples incomes under $150,000 a year receive $2,400, and reduced amounts to the couples making $198,000 a year, and their children $500 per child under 17: single parents with the adjusted gross income up to $112,500 a year receive $1,200, and reduced amount up to $136,500 a year, the news posted on “The Washington Post” on March 27, 2020 stated. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will use the information on the 2019 tax return of the beneficiaries to send or deposit the checks. IRS is scheduled to distribute the relief package by April 6, 2020.

 

The US government the communists often labeled as the capitalist and the imperialist has taken such an unprecedented virus relief package to mitigate the sufferings of the folks placed at home. However, the communist government in Nepal did nothing to provide the folks ordered to stay at home with any relief package rather set up a “Coronavirus Pandemic And Control And Remedy Fund” to make collection from all the folks. If the past history of such a fund was any guide then such funds had done nothing to the victims of the floods or any other catastrophe, and the then governments never bothered to publish the statements of how such funds were spent or used for what purposes. The current fund might meet the same fate.

 

The Indian government announced the relief package of $22 billion, the BBC news stated on March 27, 2020. “We don’t want anyone to remain hungry, and we don’t want anyone to remain without money in their hands; the package, which includes free food and cash transfers, was for “those who need immediate help” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, the BBC news stated. India made public the relief package of $22bn (£19bn) for the poor to help them counter the adverse economic effects of the Covid-19 outbreak. This amount is just 1% of India's GDP whereas the US and Singapore are spending about 10% of their GDP on similar packages, the BBC news stated.

 

March 20, 2020

Updated March 27, 2020

Updated n March 28, 2020

Document Actions