With mass testing, more cases of Covid-19 begin to emergeOn Monday alone, mass testing using rapid test kits identified five new cases of Covid-19; three have yet to be confirmed via a PCR test.
Hours after a woman from Kailali tested positive for Covid-19, a second case was reported in a 19-year-old man from Rautahat, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
Earlier on Monday, the ministry had confirmed Covid-19 in a 65-year-old woman from Lamkichuha in Kailali. After Monday’s second patient, the total number of Covid-19 cases in Nepal has now reached 14.
“Samples of two suspects, one from Kailali and the other from Rautahat, tested positive today,” said Dr Bikash Devkota, spokesperson for the Health Ministry, during a regular press briefing on Monday. “The National Public Health Laboratory confirmed Covid-19 in both samples.”
Devkota said that the patient from Rautahat had been staying in quarantine and preparations are underway to take the patient to hospital. He is believed to have returned from abroad, although it is unclear when.
The new Covid-19 cases were reported two days after three Indian nationals residing in Birgunj were confirmed to have the coronavirus.
According to the Sudurpaschim Provincial Health Directorate, the 65-year-old woman operated a tea shop in Birgunj and had returned to Kailali some three weeks ago. The local administration had kept her in a quarantine facility set up at the Lamki Multiple Campus, along with others who had returned from India and abroad.
Health workers suspect the woman might have been infected in quarantine.
Public health experts have warned that quarantine facilities, where people live in close proximity with each other and share many things including cigarettes, chewing tobacco and in some instances beds, could emerge as potential hotspots for the disease.
On Saturday, three Indian nationals residing in a mosque in Birgunj tested positive for the virus.
Nepal is already reporting a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, which has largely to do with the fact that the government only recently stepped up testing. Mass tests using 75,000 rapid test kits imported from China began on Friday and have already identified a number of new cases.
On Monday, three people from the same family residing in the Pepsicola-based Sun City Apartments were admitted to the isolation ward at Patan Hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 on a rapid test, according to Dr Bishnu Sharma, director of the hospital.
“A mother, her son and another woman have been admitted to the isolation ward of our hospital,” Sharma told the Post. “We have sent specimens for a polymerase chain reaction test.”
The three individuals reportedly came back from London about four weeks ago. Police on Monday evening sealed the ‘A’ block of the apartments after the rapid tests showed positive results and prevented people from leaving and entering the premises.
Health workers have currently isolated 106 suspects, based on their travel history or symptoms, in various hospitals across the country while 7,166 people are currently in quarantine, according to the Health Ministry.
“Sending suspects having symptoms to isolation facilities and keeping people who returned from abroad in quarantine is a regular process,” said an official at the Health Ministry. “We perform several tests even after both rapid and polymerase chain reaction tests show the same result. Only then can we confirm whether it is positive or negative.”
Rapid tests assess the presence of antibodies in the blood while a polymerase chain reaction tests for the presence of viral RNA, according to Dr Anup Subedee, a consultant infectious disease physician. PCR tests are believed to be more reliable than rapid tests.
The Health Ministry has dispatched rapid test kits to all 77 districts across the country to perform tests. Devkota said that a rapid test has started in 52 districts and samples of 5,291 suspects had been tested until Monday.
Covid-19 positive cases in Nepal so far:-
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of May 25, 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. Covid-19 had spread to 210 countries and infected more than 5,498,580 people with 346,688 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 138,536 with 4,024 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 54,601 confirmed cases with 1,133 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 603 cases with three deaths.
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.