Kathmandu Metropolitan City Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya had announced two days ago that the metropolis would conduct free PCR tests for coronavirus.

While the mayor’s announcement is unlikely to be implemented anytime soon, it is learnt that people undergoing such free PCR test will be deprived of COVID-19 insurance money if they test positive.

Ishwor Man Dangol, spokesperson of KMC said, “The KMC as per the direction of the federal government has decided that it will not allow people to receive insurance money for COVID-19 if they test positive for the virus after free PCR test provided by the local government.”

Dangol said that the step was taken in a bid to discourage rich and privileged people from taking the free PCR test, which was targeted underprivileged and needy persons.

In contrast, Mayor Shakya had said the free PCR tests were to increase contact tracing and the scope of PCR tests.

But, Shakya’s claim sounds too good to be true as KMC has only been offering free PCR test to 50 persons a day.

If we go by the mayor’s word the metropolis needs to conduct 500 to 700 free PCR tests a day as per KMC’s Department of Public Health.

“Currently, the local government does not have the capacity to conduct PCR tests of the public. All we can do is request the Health Ministry for that,” Dangol said. He further said that the metropolis will only be able to conduct free PCR test for needy people.

The mayor had earlier invited criticism for his populist claim that he would build a 100-bed COVID-19 hospital, which never materialised.

Kathmandu is one of the hardest hit COVID-19 cities in the country as nearly 50 per cent of the national daily tally is from Kathmandu.

Mayor Shakya also had said he would introduce programmes to reduce the increasing mass of people in the city area with the support of COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre, but he has not yet started homework in this regard.

A version of this article appears in print on November 24, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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