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Panic Spreads, As Coronavirus Infection Is Feared In As Many As 400 Nepalese In The U.S.

“These all data bring us to the verge of an estimate that as many as 60 to 70 Nepalese may have been infected in the tri-state area alone. Besides, there are many more cases that have not been made public.”
(Videographer Shambhu Moktan of Jackson Heights, Queens in New York got infected with coronavirus when he was shooting at a wedding party. He was admitted to the Jewish Hospital in Long Island for treatment. He has now recovered and is resting at his home. Photo: Social Network)

By Manoj Rijal, NEW YORK: Panic is spreading fast among the Nepalese speaking community of the U.S., as the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19 infection is feared to have engulfed as many as 400 Nepalese in the U.S. with the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut being the hot-spots.

“From various sources, we have been informed that as many as 400 Nepalese might have been infected as of today and this number may keep moving up,” said Anand Bist, a social worker based in New York.

According to Khagendra GC, a senior advocate, 60 to 70 people might have fallen sick alone in the tri-state area.

“As of Monday, 20 were admitted in Elmhurst Hospital in Queens and 11 in Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn, while 6 more were sick in Brooklyn. Five more families may have been infected and are on a self-quarantine,” said GC.

“These all data bring us to the verge of an estimate that as many as 60 to 70 Nepalese may have been infected in the tri-state area alone. Besides, there are many more cases that have not been made public.”

(The Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York, is overcrowded with the patients of coronavirus cases. Morgues have been built in makeshift tents outside the main hospital building due to the lack of space inside the hospital.)

Job Loss and Uncertainty

As many of the businesses have been shut down including offices, restaurants, bars, general stores and super markets, many Nepalese have lost their jobs. Only a few groceries, liquor stores and pharmacies are open, as they fall under the category of the essential services. This situation has brought uncertainty among the Nepalese in regard to their future and survival.

“I used to work in a bar, which is now closed. Its really tough for me to pay the rent, buy groceries and meet other expenses,” said Tashi (name changed), a Nepalese student, who used to work in Manhattan, New York and lives in New Jersey.

Likewise, Tsering Dorjee works in a liquor store in Manhattan and he wants to leave the job. But his boss would not allow him to leave the job.

“I am working at a liquor store. I want to stay home but my boss says liquor store is essential and so he doesn’t want to close,” Dorjee wrote in a social media platform operated by Nepalese in New York.

Nimesh Thapa used to work in a grocery store in Brooklyn. His store is still open but he quit the job and preferred staying home amid the coronavirus crisis. “My health is dearer to me than the job. I may have to suffer financially but I cannot lose my life with my stupidity,” Thapa said.

Relief and Community Works

It is feared that Nepalese students have been suffering the most among all groups of the Nepalese in the U.S. With this in mind, the U.S. Chapter of the Non-Resident Nepalis (NRNA NCC USA) has announced a relief of $ 300 each to Nepalese students, who have been struggling a lot to meet their ends.

“Students are not in the relief list of the government. They will not get a relief check or an unemployment benefit. That’s why we have decided to help them out,” said Suneel Sah, president of the NRNA NCC USA.

“Our relief will vary from person to person, depending on one’s requirement. Basically, it may range from medicine to food. Our 20 chapters in the U.S. will have the focal persons and they will distribute this amount to the students who come in contact with those chapters,” said Sah.

In New York, most of the Nepalese social organizations have come together to form a coalition of organizations that would work towards raising awareness among people about the coronavirus disaster and how to stay safe.

“We have set up a Coronavirus Awareness And Assistance Group to raise awareness among the people and help them when necessary,” said Anand Bist, a social worker in New York.

Similarly, advocate GC said they are trying to distribute medicines at the community level and help fill out the unemployment form to claim the joblessness benefits.

“A medical check up and expenses made for coronavirus treatment will not be legally termed as the public charge. Therefore, people should not shy away from getting treatment if they fall sick,” said advocate GC.

The Nepalese Embassy in Washington D.C., meanwhile, said they are working on the problems faced by the Nepalese in the U.S.

“Panic is everywhere at this moment. We have been requesting all Nepalese not to go to work at this critical situation. We are receiving information about various problems of the Nepalese. We will take steps as per the guidelines of the government of Nepal,” said Nepal’s Ambassador to the U.S., Arjun Kumar Karki.

Between Death and Hope 

(Anil Subba, an Uber taxi driver got infected with coronavirus when he was carrying an infected passenger from JFK airport to Westchester County, the then hotspot of coronavirus in New York State. Subba was admitted to Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. He passed away on March 24, 2020. Photo: Family)

Anil Limbu, an Uber taxi driver of New York, got infected from a patient he was carrying from JFK Airport to Westchester County, the initial hot-spot of coronavirus in New York state.

Limbu succumbed to the infection and died a few days ago at Elmhurst Hospital. He is survived by his wife, two sons and one daughter. His family also got infected but there are no further information on it.

Videographer Shambhu Moktan from Jackson Heights, Queens was also infected and admitted to the Jewish Hospital in Long Island. Jiwan Bam, one more business owner from Queens, got infected, too. Both of them received treatment and are now at home rest.

One more lady from Fairfax, Virginia, is reported to have infected with coronavirus. She is on a self-quarantine.

Amid the spread of coronavirus, hope is still alive among the Nepalese community as the victims have displayed an unwavering fighting spirit to get rid of this infection.

“We are four in our family. Me, my husband and two sons. All of us were infected with the coronavirus. We stayed home and fought against the virus and won this war of life and death,” said Nima Sherpa, a resident of Woodside, Queens in New York.

Sherpa mainly relied on the herbal hot soup made of turmeric and ginger and the regular doses of fever reducing medicines to get rid of the virus.

“We are healthy now,” she said.

Videographer Moktan has also been discharged from the hospital.

“I thank you all for your love, support and blessings. I hope I will be safe at home and I will also try to share the experiences verbally from here onwards,” said Moktan.

Published Date: Tuesday, March 31st, 2020 | 11:06 AM

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