Gandaki Province has no active Covid-19 case, but officials warn against complacencyCovid-19 cases are on the rise in other provinces and trucks, including people, are coming in. So there’s still a possibility of an outbreak, says the Provincial Health Office.
In late May and early April, Gandaki Province reported two cases of coronavirus with two women from Baglung testing positive. The province was then marked “a red zone.” Both the patients have now recovered and returned home.
No new case of the disease has been reported in the province even after tracing the contacts of the infected. Officials at the provincial government say the region can now be marked as a “green zone”.
Districts, including Kaski, have eased lockdown restrictions, and industries, businesses and administrative offices have resumed operations. Movement of people has increased in Pokhara and other district headquarters in the province.
The province currently has no active cases of Covid-19. But can the province be complacent? Provincial officials say no, pointing at the widespread defiance of the lockdown measures while people are returning from other districts as well as India.
“The contacts of those returnees have not been traced. Their whereabouts should be recorded and awareness should be raised,” Nawa Raj Sharma, coordinator of provincial emergency health bureau, said. “The risk of infection is still very high.”
Covid-19 cases are on the rise in other provinces and trucks, including people, are coming in, so Gandaki is still at risk of an outbreak, said Binod Bindu Sharma, director at the Provincial Health Office. “The province needs to apply strict measures at the border points, even if the lockdown measures inside the province are eased,” he said. “If restrictions are relaxed at the border points, the number of infections may shoot up overnight.”
Nara Devi Pun Magar, the provincial minister of Social Development, said the province is preparing to seal its borders and record the details of incoming vehicles. The number of people coming into the provinces from the rest of the country as well as India is still considerable, she said. Recently, the Pokhara Metropolitan Office quarantined 20 returnees.
DSP Rajendra Regmi of Provincial Police said the borders have been tightened while only trucks ferrying essential have been allowed in. “There may be some who have used informal routes to enter the province, the police can’t check every porous border,” said Regmi. “But we have strictly monitored the major border points with other provinces.”
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of September 22, 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. Covid-19 has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 31,405,983 people with 967,505 deaths and 22,990,260 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,557,573 with 88,943 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 306,304 confirmed cases with 6,420 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 65,276 cases with 427 deaths.
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.