Parbat Hospital closed for the last four days after doctors infected with coronavirusOfficials say they are waiting for the test results of other staffers who may have come into contact with the infected.
Parbat District Hospital remains sealed off with all health services suspended three days after five staffers tested positive for coronavirus.
A total of 81 swab samples, including those of staffers at the hospital, were collected on Friday and sent to the Provincial Public Health Laboratory in Pokhara for Polymerase Chain Reaction test after five health workers were diagnosed with Covid-19 on Thursday.
“We can’t resume services at the hospital because we haven’t received the PCR results for the 81 people who may have come into contact with the five infected staffers,” said Dr Shishir Devkota, acting medical superintendent of the hospital.
Of the 81 individuals whose throat swab samples have been collected, 60 are health workers who have not returned to work after the five staffers tested positive. “We have tagged four samples as “priority” but we haven’t received the result yet.”
According to him, some of the staffers have been cooped up inside the hospital for the last four days.
As of Monday noon, test results of only 70 of the 80 individuals have been released. Among them, 69 tested negative for Covid-19, according to the hospital. One positive case is that of a doctor and another of a relative of a health worker. Currently, they are in the isolation ward of the hospital.
“Although we called the provincial laboratory to release test results at the earliest, they haven’t done so,” said Devkota.
Meanwhile, the Pokhara-bsed Provincial Public Health Laboratory informed that results for all 81 individuals may be released by Tuesday. Sapana Subedi, acting director at the lab, said, “It is not possible to release test results of all samples at once. Sometimes we have to run multiple tests on a single sample due to technical glitches. That’s why it takes time to release the test results.”
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.