Swab samples to be collected from 14 hospitals in Kathmandu ValleyCollection centers to operate daily from 9 AM to 1 PM.
Amid a sharp rise in new coronavirus cases in the country, the Ministry of Health and Population has designated 14 hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley to collect specimens—nasal and throat swabs for polymerase chain reaction tests.
According to the Ministry, people who have recently visited Covid-19 hotspots or those who have come in close contact with Covid-19 suspects or infected can visit any of the 14 designated hospitals to have their specimens collected.
“We hope that people who have developed symptoms akin to coronavirus or those who have come in close contact with Covid-19 suspects would also seek tests voluntarily in the coming days,” said Dr Sameer Kumar Adhikari, joint-spokesperson at the Ministry.
As per the Ministry, there will be no charges for the tests and swab collection centers will operate daily from 9 AM to 1 PM at fourteen hospitals — Patan Hospital, Civil Hospital, Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital, Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Birendra Hospital, Police Hospital, Bhaktapur Hospital, KMC Hospital, Star Hospital, Bir Hospital, Armed Police Force Hospital, Hams Hospital and Nepal-Korea Friendship Hospital.
Wth the rise of Covid-19 cases in the country including in the Kathmandu Valley, the Ministry had recently updated the testing guidelines to increase the number of tests but officials say hospitals in the Valley were not sending swab samples as expected.
“Local authorities in other districts have been taking the lead to collect swabs and in managing quarantine and isolation facilities but local authorities in the Valley have not shouldered the responsibility,” an official at the Ministry said. “We have designated more hospitals in the Valley to increase the number of tests.”
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of September 22, 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 has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 31,405,983 people with 967,505 deaths and 22,990,260 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,557,573 with 88,943 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 306,304 confirmed cases with 6,420 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 65,276 cases with 427 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.