Cases of Coronavirus in Nepal raises concernsCoronavirus causing pneumonia and kidney failure has come to Nepal and authorities must pay heed.
The mysterious virus that has claimed 56 lives so far and infected hundreds of people worldwide—coronavirus—has now taken the shape of a full-blown crisis. As the world displays anxiety over the spread of this deadly virus that was first reported in Wuhan, China last week, a 31-year-old Nepali student who had returned from Wuhan, China last month was confirmed as having been infected with it. And just as recent as on Saturday, officials said two more Nepalis—one man and one woman—have been suspected as being infected with the virus.
This case reflects our vulnerability to a potential epidemic and has forced the government to bolster its capacity to deal with infectious diseases. What’s more, instead of resorting to quarantine right away, reports suggest that the Health Ministry deployed ‘a medical doctor and paramedics’ to cover the health desk at Tribhuvan International Airport only after the notice from WHO came forth. Meaning, were it not for the WHO notice, the health desk at the airport would have been left empty.
The coronavirus is similar to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, which killed hundreds of people in 2002 and 2003. What’s more, according to the World Health Organisation, the symptoms are similar to pneumonia. Now that we have three cases of the disease in Nepal, it goes without saying that the authorities must warrant it the attention it deserves. Health authorities across the country need to step up surveillance and other precautions to prevent a pandemic.
The first cases identified were linked to a seafood market, suggesting animal-to-human transmission. But by now, this strain of coronavirus is also thought to spread between people. Every time a cross-border pandemic occurs, the world faces an unprecedented catastrophe posing a significant risk to global health security. This was evident with virus outbreaks like SARS, Bird flu, Ebola and Zika, each of these killed hundreds of people across the globe.
Nepal must up its game; most of the times, authorities under the Ministry of Health and Population are woefully underprepared to even deal with a climate-induced epidemic. Challenges have been rising every year with new diseases emerging, but we have limited resources to deal with such problems. The government must increase spending on upgrading infrastructure and home as well as increase spending on research.
Now that it has been confirmed that the dangerous coronavirus has entered Nepal, the governments across tiers need to push out effective information campaigns so that people are aware of the danger, and can take the necessary preventative steps.
It could issue notices that clearly guide the public to avoid crowds and minimise public gatherings to reduce the possibility of cross-infection.