Health workers at Teku hospital to get precautionary training against coronavirusPatients suspected to have been infected with the deadly virus will be kept in the hospital’s cabin.
Epidemiology and Disease Control Division has decided to provide training to health workers serving at the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku to deal with patients infected with a new strain of coronavirus.
The decision of the division comes amid heightened risks of transmission of the deadly virus.
"We will provide precautionary training to all health workers, including doctors serving at the Teku hospital, tomorrow," Dr Hemanta Chandra Ojha, an official at the division, told the Post on Wednesday. "Doctors and health workers of other hospitals— Patan Hospital, hospitals of security agencies— Nepal Army, Armed Police Force and Nepal Police—will also receive the training."
The division on Wednesday provided personal protective equipment to Teku hospital.
So far, at least nine persons have died and more than 440 others have been infected by the virus, globally. Two people were infected through human-to-human transmission. The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission in China reported that 15 medical workers in the city had been infected with the coronavirus virus, with one being in a critical condition. Infections have also been reported in Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Japan and the United States of America.
Chinese authorities have urged people to stop traveling in and out of Wuhan, the city at the center of a new virus outbreak, according to the BBC.
"Basically, do not go to Wuhan. And those in Wuhan please do not leave the city," the BBC quoted National Health Commission vice-minister Li Bin, as saying in one of the first public briefings since the beginning of the outbreak.
Meanwhile, at a meeting of the concerned officials held at the Ministry of Health and Population it was decided that there will be coordination with all agencies, including the World Health Organization's country office in Nepal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs and other concerned ministries, to deal with the possible threat of the virus.
At the meeting, it was decided that a suspected patient infected with coronavirus would be admitted in the cabin room of Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Diseases Hospital.
“The hospital has six cabin beds, where we will keep the suspected cases,” said Dr Basudev Pandey, director at the hospital, who also attended Health Ministry's meeting.
He also said that additional arrangements should be explored at the earliest, as his hospital cannot keep all patients, if the number of patients rises. "It is already a flu season," said Pandey. "What can we do, if a lot of people come at once to the hospital?"
The hospital has also decided to give N-95 masks to the health workers from Thursday to protect them from infection.
Ojha, the official from the division, said his office had been exploring every possibility to deal with an emergency. He said he himself had visited the Armed Police Force Hospital to study the possibility of establishing an isolation facility.
"We are waiting for a decision from the World Health Organization's emergency meeting," said Ojha. "We are also working to explore other possibilities, including setting up a thermal scanner at the airport."
Nepal is at a high risk of transmission of the deadly virus as the inflow of Chinese tourists is high. More than 169,000 Chinese tourists visited Nepal in 2019.
The country aims to attract two million tourists in 2020, including 350,000 Chinese tourists under its Visit Nepal 2020 campaign.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of March 29, 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 650,812 people with 30,341 deaths. In South Asia, Pakistan has reported the highest number of infections at 1,495 with 12 deaths. While India has reported 918 confirmed cases with 19 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.