Public health laboratory confirms third Covid-19 caseThe laboratory confirmed the presence of the coronavirus in a 32-year-old man who had just returned from the Middle East.
[This is a developing story. Please check back periodically for updates.]
Nepal’s third Covid-19 case has just been confirmed in a 32-year-old man who returned from Sharjah of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, according to Rajesh Kumar Gupta, spokesperson for the National Public Health Laboratory.
The man, a local of Dhading district, returned to Nepal on March 19 via Air Arabia, which landed at 4:45 pm. He came into the hospital himself after coming down with a fever, sore throat and cough, according to healthcare officials.
“Our laboratory confirmed the positive case yesterday night,” said Gupta.
The man is currently in isolation at the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital and the laboratory has informed the Ministry of Health about the result, according to Gupta.
Health Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal said that the man had been living in a hotel after returning to Kathmandu. He is not believed to have taken any self-quarantine measures.
“The authorities have started the process to trace his contacts from the hotel,” Dhakal told the Post.
Meanwhile, doctors at the Sukraraj Hospital had cordoned off the director's room on Wednesday after learning of the third confirmed case through the media, warning that they would no longer continue risking their and their family members’ lives if critical information is withheld again.
“We have to treat the patients and deal with their relatives, but they [the hospital administration] are not giving us information,” Dr Sher Bahadur Pun of the hospital told the Post. “They also kept us in the dark about the second case also. Imagine how risky it is?”
Dr Sagar Rajbhandari, director of the Sukraraj Hospital said that he too was awaiting official communication from the laboratory informing him of the results.
This is Nepal’s third confirmed case of Covid-19 and the second active case. Earlier, on Sunday, a 19-year-old Nepali student who had returned from France via Qatar had tested positive for Covid-19. In January, a 31-year-old Nepali student who had returned from Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province in China, which is also the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, had tested positive. The man recovered and was subsequently discharged from the hospital.
Meanwhile, the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, the agency responsible to contain the spread of deadly disease throughout the country, said that officials have been deployed for contact tracing to the people come in close contact of the patient, infected with the Covid-19.
“We will also trace contact of people returned to Nepal in the same flight, in which the positive patient came,” Dr Basudev Pandey, director at the Division, told the Post. “We will identify them and ask them to stay in strict home quarantine, and if symptoms develop, we will bring them to hospital.”
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.