Gandaki province prepares for coronavirus pandemic; closes all international and domestic border effective Tuesday onwardsAll districts take measures to control the spread of coronavirus including banning public transport.
The Gandaki provincial government has shut down all overland border crossings with India and China to stem the possible spread of novel coronavirus.
The province shares borders with India from Tribeni in Nawalpur, and Korala and Ruila Bhanjyang in China. The borders with China, however, are not in regular operation.
Movement of people between the provinces has also been restricted for a week starting Tuesday.
On Monday, a meeting attended by Chief Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung decided to close all international and provincial borders as a measure to stop the possible spread of coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.
Gurung, who is also the coordinator of the Corona Infection Prevention, Control and Management Committee, told the meeting the border restrictions could be extended if needed.
The border restrictions, however, will not apply to the vehicles transporting daily essentials, including food and medicines.
The committee has also decided to ban all public transportation in Pokhara from Tuesday onwards.
Dr Binodbandu Sharma of the Province Health Directorate said to help people for medical emergencies during the restrictions period, the directorate has set up helplines (061-524074 and 1115).
“We have been operating emergency services from all 11 district hospitals,” Sharma said. “We are also preparing to set up a 60-bed quarantine facility and a 110-bed isolation ward for coronavirus patients.”
Meanwhile, the concerned local administrations in the province are also taking steps to control the possible spread of coronavirus.
In Gorkha, the district hospital has started to provide consultation service to the patients from the hospital’s telephone line and has started 24-hour emergency service.
In Parbat, the administration has banned the movement of public vehicles from Monday afternoon.
In Nawalparasi (East), movement of people through the Gandak Barrage, which also serves as a crossing between the district and the state of Bihar in India, has been closed from Monday.
(Correspondents from Myagdi, Gorkha, Nawalparasi (East), Parbat and Baglung contributed reporting)
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of March 31, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. As of Wednesday, Covid-19 had spread to 199 countries and infected more than 8,07,705 people with 39,456 deaths. In South Asia, Pakistan has reported the highest number of infections at 1,865 with 25 deaths. While India has reported 1,251 confirmed cases with 32 deaths. Nepal has so far reported five cases, in which one patient recovered.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.