Gandaki begins mass testing to contain coronavirus transmissionProvincial Health Directorate said people working in vulnerable sectors will be prioritised.
With spikes in Covid-19 cases reported in several districts of Gandaki Province in the last few days, authorities have started mass-testing members of the community, prioritising areas prone to transmission of the virus.
The provincial executive started the drive on Wednesday as officials continue to test people returning from abroad and those found to have come in contact with infected individuals.
According to the Provincial Health Directorate, 1,600 throat swabs have been collected until Thursday as part of the campaign. The swabs have been collected based on random sampling.
Dr Binodbindu Sharma, province health director, said, “We have increased the scope of contact tracing and collection of specimens too.”
According to the directorate, mass testing of people working in vulnerable sectors such as health institutions, vegetable markets, salons, meat shops, vehicle workshops, financial institutions, sanitation, government offices, courts, and security personnel, journalists, traders, employees at quarantine and isolation facilities was conducted in the first phase.
With an objective to increase the laboratory tests, the health directorate installed an extraction machine at the Tuberculosis Treatment Centre, Pokhara this week. Sharma said the machine prepares specimens for PCR tests. “The machine has a capacity to prepare 96 swab samples in 35 minutes. Four health workers have to work in four-hour shifts to run the machine to its full capacity.”
The province currently has two PCR machines. "We installed the extraction machine to expedite mass testing. We can carry out the PCR tests of about 600 people per day now," said Sharma, adding that mass testing has been started in all 11 districts of the province.According to the District Health Office, mass testing has been started at financial institutions and police organisations in Pokhara under the first phase. "We will gradually collect swabs of people working in other risky sectors," said Baburam Acharya, chief at the District Health Office. A total of 1,575 people have tested positive for the virus in Gandaki so far. Nine cases were confirmed in Kaski, Tanahun, Parbat, Syangja and Gorkha districts on Thursday. According to the health directorate, four infected people have died and 1,383 have returned home after receiving treatment at various health facilities.