19-year-old woman who returned from France via Qatar tests positive for Covid-19According to doctors, there is no need to panic as the woman had self-quarantined herself since arriving in the country and has not developed any serious symptoms.
A 19-year-old Nepali student who returned to Nepal from France via Qatar on March 17 has tested positive for Covid-19.
According to Minister for Health and Population Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal, the student has been admitted to the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku.
The woman, who had been in self-quarantine since returning from France, was brought to the Sukraraj Hospital on Friday after her roommate in France informed her that she had tested positive for Covid-19. Nasal and throat swabs were drawn and sent to the National Public Health Laboratory, which confirmed the presence of Covid-19 on Sunday, Dhakal said at a press meet organised on Monday.
According to the minister, the patient was admitted to the Teku hospital’s isolation ward on Sunday night after Covid-19 was confirmed.
“People who came in close contact with the patient are also being monitored,” Dhakal said. “And health workers have been deployed to trace all other possible contact she could’ve had.”
Health workers, however, were not deployed until late Monday afternoon to trace all of the woman’s contacts.
Dr Basudev Pandey, director of the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, the agency responsible for mobilising personnel to track down contacts, conceded that although he knew about the live Covid-19 case, it had taken him some time to deploy personnel.
“We had to conduct an orientation class to health workers and tell them about safety measures before they could be deployed,” said Pandey.
Three health workers, including one from the World Health Organization’s country office in Nepal, have been deployed for contact tracing. These personnel will first meet with the patient, who is currently receiving treatment at the isolation ward at Sukraraj Hospital, and quiz regarding her movements and contacts. Then they will visit her home to meet with her family members, who will be asked to take safety measures and remain in self-quarantine at home. They will not be put into quarantine at the Sukraraj Hospital or tested yet, said Pandey.
“Unless symptoms develop, we will not place them in quarantine or test them,” he said.
Ever since news broke of Nepal’s second Covid-19 patient, many have been living in fear that the woman might have spread the disease to friends, family members and area locals.
The Post is withholding the identity of the woman and her neighbourhood in the interest of privacy.
Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, director-general of the Department of Health Services, said that the government will not be putting any area under lockdown to prevent possible spread of the disease. When pressed on the exact measures that the contact tracing team would be undertaking to contain the spread, Shrestha refused to divulge details.
“We have several teams and they have started their work,” Shrestha told the Post. “It is not necessary to tell the public everything. It is like the work of a detective. Do the police give the public all their information about how they catch a thief?”
According to Dr Sagar Rajbhandari, director of the Sukraraj Hospital, the patient’s health condition is normal.
As the patient had remained in self-quarantine and had used a private vehicle to come to the hospital, it is unlikely that she has passed on the coronavirus to many others, he said.
Earlier, a 31-year-old Nepali student who had returned from Wuhan, the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak, was Nepal’s only case of coronavirus. The man recuperated and was released.
However, in that case, the man had visited many people and places before coming to the hospital and in the live case, the woman had been staying in self-quarantine, said a doctor at Sukraraj Hospital.
“But we should not panic,” said the doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The patient does not have any severe symptoms and has told us that she complied with all safety measures.”
As of March 23, more than 345, 390 Covid-19 infections have been reported in 192 countries and territories, with more than 14,925 deaths.
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 8,07,705 people with 39,456 deaths. In South Asia, Pakistan has reported the highest number of infections at 1,865 with 25 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.