Kathmandu, March 24
After the announcement from reputed Prime Minister KP Oli, many businesses have closed their offices while some are working from home. It is actually a necessary step taken by the entire world during such times of trouble. Taking measures and staying indoors is probably the best thing we can do as individuals to stop the virus spread.
Now that Nepal is beginning to realize the threat of COVID-19 and staying in isolation, let’s discuss the effects in the daily lives of people.
Many big events such as Google I/O were canceled. Similarly, Visit Nepal 2020 was canceled which was one of the most anticipated events of 2020 in Nepal. Slowly but surely, Nepali business sectors are realizing the need for a response. Here are some of the information regarding the effects of social distancing in Nepal due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Online Transactions Are Now Free-of-charge
Most online payment gateways and digital wallets in Nepal have deemed online transactions free of cost. These include some of the big names such as Khalti, Connect-IPS, and e-Sewa. This means that they have removed the charges of bank transfer considering the present scenario.
Images: Announcement of free bank transfers from Khalti | ConnectIPS | eSewa
The bank transfer charges would normally range from Rs. 10 to Rs. 40 in the past. For now, they are free using these platforms.
Therefore, you can just stay home and perform online transactions avoiding human interactions.
Birth of Nepal’s Own Open Source Platform for COVID-19
Fusemachines, a company working in AI, has built an open-source platform for awareness and transmission of accurate information about Coronavirus in Nepal. The platform was built to update all events and details around Nepal regarding the COVID-19 epidemic.
Founder of Fusemachines and data scientist Sameer Maskey explains the 90+ hours of tireless efforts put in order to make the system ready.
Similarly, he also requests the public to join them in fighting the pandemic together. Each individual has the role of a responsible citizen to help spread accurate information.
The platform also includes real-time data, symptoms, prevention measures, emergency phone contacts regarding Coronavirus infection across Nepal.
Image: Mobile view of the system’s webpage
Every Office Adapts #WorkFromHome
There were no other options during such stressful times and certainly, work can’t stop!
Most tech companies have therefore implemented ‘work from home’. Some companies even started this trend before the government’s announcement. ICTFrame too has been very precautious since the pandemic.
It started to hit most of the offices quite early. Since Chaitra 9, 2076, employees have started working from home. Well, at least we hope so.
Images: Work From Home Notice of Online Zeal Pvt. Ltd. & Leapfrog Technology Inc.
Awareness Campaigns of Virtual Meetings
By this time, everyone surely knows about Nepal Telecom’s awareness campaign. People should’ve noticed the ringback tone that explains the precautions and preventive measures of COVID-19.
Recently, Ncell also got on board with its awareness campaign: “Let’s not skip meetings; instead, let’s skype them”.
Ncell’s awareness campaign
Even Tootle, a ride-sharing platform has urged people to stay at home as safety matters the most. Certainly, an exemplary move from Tootle, a platform that relies on people going to places outside.
Sudden Rise in Internet Traffic
Maintaining social distance in today’s world doesn’t really justify the statement. People are home every day avoiding physical contact. But what about the world of the Internet and social media?
Obviously, scrolling through social media platforms, watching Netflix, etc. becomes a daily routine when you are home all day. But a fact to note is that the quarantine life decreases the internet speed. And, the reason is a sudden rise in traffic. In fact, ISPAN (Internet Service Provider Association of Nepal) reported an increase in internet usage by 30% in Nepal.
It’s very common as it is happening all over the world. Recently, Netflix and Amazon decided to limit their streaming quality to 480p (SD) for at least 30 days in Europe.
Personally, I experienced a slow downtime on my internet connection at home. In view of the current situation, don’t you agree that we should be responsible with our Internet usage? Most certainly, we don’t have the right equipment right now to deal with this surge in traffic.
Obviously, I don’t mean to tell you to stop using the internet. I mean, you have paid for it!
However, there might be a few things we can do to help our ISPs maintain the traffic.
There are some basic guidelines that ISPAN released on using the Internet amid the Coronavirus outbreak. Let’s see what they are.
- Do not stream videos at the highest available quality during peak internet usage hours.
- Do not change the internet settings right now, as ISPs may not be able to send their support staff for help.
- No torrenting and try to possibly limit the live streams.
- Please do not download huge files until absolutely necessary.
- And be wary of fake rumors and news that’s floating around the internet.
- Try to limit your internet usage during peak hours
The spread of Fake News and Rumors
We all might have possibly heard the 1-minute audio clip circulating around messenger. Well, that turned out to be fake and police arrested the culprit behind the audio clip. Every day new rumors spread around social media. At such times, incorrect information and rumors create fear among the general public. It’s often confusing what to believe and what not to. Therefore, the service providers are emphasizing on only making the right information available to the public. And when it comes to spreading any news, let officials confirm it first!
Similarly, ISPAN has also urged the public to wait for an official notice or news before forwarding any rumors to Messenger, Viber, Whatsapp, or any similar platforms.
None of us know the extent of the COVID-19 spread in Nepal. So far, there is only one case from which the victim has already recovered. So, we don’t exactly know how long this lock-down is going to last.
It is up to each and every one of us to act responsibly and take care of the ones around us. Nature has given us the chance to stay at home and save the planet. Stay safe and wash your hands!
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