KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 22
Kathmandu Metropolitan City started collecting swabs of persons from vulnerable groups for free PCR test today.
The metropolis has deployed a mobile van for reaching out to helpless and incapacitated persons, and senior citizens to collect their swabs.
KMC Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya had announced in a formal programme yesterday that KMC would conduct free PCR tests of people inside the metropolis. While inaugurating the statues of national heroes Sankhadhar Sakhwa and human rights activist Padma Ratna Tuladhar at Sankhadhar Garden, Kathmandu, Mayor Shakya said the local government would take the initiative to protect people from the highly contagious virus.
KMC had written a letter to the Ministry of Health and Population seeking the latter’s consent to conduct free PCR tests. Currently, the government has been providing 50 per cent free PCR test from the central laboratory at Teku for the metropolis. These free PCR tests are conducted on the recommendations of elected local leaders, including deputy-mayor and the mayor.
Mayor Shakya said local governments would now intensify contact tracing and increase PCR testing. If we go by the mayor’s words, the metropolis needs to conduct 500 to 700 free PCR tests according to the Department of Public Health, KMC. This claim sounds too good to be true for the populist mayor who had earlier been criticised for saying he would build a 100-bed COVID-19 hospital, which never materialised.
Kathmandu is one of the hardest COVID-19-hit areas in the country as nearly 50 per cent of national daily cases are from Kathmandu.
Mayor Shakya also said KMC would soon introduce programmes to reduce mass infections around the city area with support from COV- ID-19 Crisis Management Centre, the apex body formed by the government to tackle the coronavirus crisis in the country.
Hari Kunwar, head of the Department of Public Health, said providing free PCR tests at the expense of the metropolis was not possible at present.
“But, we hope the central government will support us in this,” he added.
Feature Image: File
A version of this article appears in print on November 23, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.