All 175 Nepalis rescued from China test negative for coronavirusA second test will be conducted again after 10 days.
All 175 Nepalis evacuated from Hubei Province of China have tested negative for coronavirus, the Ministry of Health Affairs said on Wednesday.
They were brought to Kathmandu on early Sunday morning and taken to the Nepal Electricity Authority training centre in Kharipati, Bhaktapur, where they are being quarantined.
Lab technicians from the National Public Health Laboratory had collected their specimens—nasal and throat swabs—for test on Sunday itself.
"No one was found to have been infected with the coronavirus," Khagaraj Baral, a secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, told the Post. "Their health condition is good and we will carry out a second test after 10 days and send them home if they test negative again.”
The incubation period for the virus, dubbed COVID-19, is at least 14 days.
Out of 210 specimens including those of 175 people evacuated from Hubei, only one has tested positive.
The World Health Organization's collaborating centre in Hong Kong had confirmed the virus in the specimen from a 31-year-old student who had returned from Wuhan on January 6.
The new strain of coronavirus which was first detected in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, in December last year, has so far spread to as many as 25 countries, killing at least 2,004 people, a vast majority in China, and infecting 74,185 others.
Of the 175 Nepalis who returned from China, 170 are students, one is an employee, two are visitors, and two are children, according to the Embassy of Nepal in China.
The Ministry of Health and Population has said that the specimens of crew members and security personnel who went to Hubei Province for the evacuation mission would be collected only if they developed influenza-like symptoms.
"Their samples will be collected only after 14 days," Mahendra Shrestha, spokesperson for the ministry told the Post. "The incubation period has just started and it takes time to develop symptoms. But we believe all of them are safe, as they had used protective gears during the evacuation process and none of the evacuees has tested positive for the virus."
Meanwhile, the six Nepalis who were prevented from boarding plane due to fever are said to be in contact with the Nepali Embassy in China.
Shrestha said none of them is infected with the virus. The government has so far not made any decision about their evacuation.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of March 31, 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 783,120 people with 37,696 deaths. In South Asia, Pakistan has reported the highest number of infections at 1,650 with 20 deaths. While India has reported 1,251 confirmed cases with 32 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.