Local governments in Tanahun, Bajhang to buy coronavirus testing machinesAll municipalities and rural municipalities in the respective district will share the cost of the polymerase chain reaction machines, and expedite tests to curb the spread of Covid-19.
With the rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country and delays in laboratory processing of swab samples, local governments in Tanahun and Bajhang districts have decided to buy their own polymerase chain reaction machines to expedite testing.
The heads of all 10 local governments in Tanahun met on Thursday in Myagde Rural Municipality, and decided to purchase a PCR machine for the district. According to Hariram Nagila, administrative officer at Myagde, the meeting decided to install the machine at the Shuklagandaki-based GP Koirala National Centre for Respiratory Diseases.
“The local governments have rescued hundreds of people returning from India and other places within the country and kept them in quarantine facilities,” said Nagila.
“But we need to wait around a week to get reports for swabs sent to Pokhara for testing,” said Nagila. “The local governments decided to purchase the machine as there is a high possibility of transmission of the virus in quarantines due to delays in test results.” He said the local governments will seek help from the Gandaki Provincial Health Directorate to deploy technicians required for the laboratory.
The local bodies plan to collect Rs 10 million for the machine and other infrastructures needed to run it. The meeting decided that Shuklagandaki Municipality will pay 14 percent of the cost while Byas, Bhanu and Bhimad municipalities will bear 12 percent each. Aanbukhaireni, Bandipur, Rishing, Ghiring and Myagde rural municipalities will contribute nine percent and Devaghat Rural Municipality five.
The meeting, also attended by Chief District Officer Badrinath Adhikari and coordinator of the District Coordination Committee Shanti Raman Wagle, has handed over the responsibility of procuring the machine and making provisions for necessary infrastructure to Shuklagandaki Municipality.
Similarly, local governments in Bajhang have also decided to buy a PCR machine for the district. People’s representatives from the local governments in the district said they took the decision as the district had to entirely depend on the PCR laboratory in Dhangadhi and wait for more than a week for results.
“The delay in test results will lead to a further spread of the virus. Therefore, we have decided to buy the machine and expedite the tests in the district itself,” said Bhuwaneshwor Upadhyay, chairman of Thalara Rural Municipality.
The meeting of the corona crisis management centre held on Monday took the decision to procure one PCR machine for the district. Each municipality and rural municipality will provide Rs 1.5 million and Rs 1 million respectively while the district coordination committee will provide Rs 1.5 million for the machine.
“The machine will be bought within three weeks and installed at the district hospital. If the amount collected from the local units and district coordination committee falls short, we will request individuals and various organisations for voluntary contribution,” said Akkal Bahadur Dhami, the chairman of Pathibhera Rural Municipality. There are two municipalities and 10 rural municipalities in the district.
Dr Sandip Okheda, chief at the district hospital, said preparations are on to run the PCR laboratory at the health facility following the decision to buy it. According to him, there are four lab technicians currently at the hospital and one lab officer will be appointed soon to operate the machine.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of July 7, 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 had spread to 213 countries and infected more than 111,655,612 people with 538,565 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 719,448 with 20,174 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 231,818 confirmed cases with 4,762 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 15,964 cases with 35 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.