‘New’ can be exciting and scary too. And this time, it’s just scary. With the increased access to social media due to affordable cellular data packages and internet service providers reaching remote parts of the country, more people have been following news articles circulated over social media than verified news on newspapers, television and radio. From the hundreds of such online news sources, only a handful share verified news and close to all of them share hearsay articles and fictional news just to garner more attention which in the current pandemic has resulted to more people believing in shared rumors than in facts.
    The Local Government Representatives in Sindhupalchowk have kept themselves updated with news surrounding COVID-19 but because of the newness of the disease, most of the news sources do not have actual information which results to opinions and assumptions being shared as facts. This has resulted to the majority of the community members and local government representatives being misinformed.
    On Friday, 12th June 2020, Institution for Suitable Actions for Prosperity (ISAP) in collaboration with Peace Winds Japan had organized an online seminar for the Local Government representatives of Melamchi Municipality, Chautara Municipality, Balefi Rural Municipality and Sunkoshi Rural Municipality of Sindhupalchowk district to address the existing information gap regarding the current situation. We had invited Dr. Basu Dev Pandey, Director, Epidemiology and Disease Control Department, Government of Nepal and Dr. Kiran Rupakheti, Joint Secretary, National Planning Commission who have been working in the forefront of COVID-19 response and control to make the local government representatives aware of the actual situation of the country and to spread awareness on what they can do to curb the spread.
    Dr. Pandey, who is also leading COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee under the Deputy Prime Minister, shed light on the disease from its origin to the current situation of the country with a focus on the government’s initiatives to control the disease and the possible awareness campaigns that the local government can run.
    Dr. Rupakheti had shared the social and economic impact of COVID-19 in the country and the steps that Local Governments can take to resume economic activities in their regions while maintaining COVID-19 safety measures. While addressing the news about returnee migrant workers, Dr. Rupakheti instructed the Local Government Representatives to arrange for safe quarantine centers as per the Government of Nepal’s mandates and how the returnees can be reintegrated into economic activities and the budget and schemes created by the Government of Nepal for the same.
    The webinar was also attended by representatives from municipal health offices. Public schools, local news agencies, agricultural cooperatives and district level political parties from Sindhupalchok and representatives from Embassy of Japan, Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens and Social Welfare Council from Kathmandu apart from the Project Team members from ISAP and PWJ.

    Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Wbf_moJqos

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