Health Ministry advises shutting down schools in 14 highly vulnerable districtsDirects all government hospitals to allocate 50 percent of their beds for Covid-19 patients and provide free treatment.
The Ministry of Health and Population has recommended shutting down schools and early closure of restaurants in 14 districts considered highly vulnerable to Covid-19.
The ministry on Thursday issued a letter of appeal recommending school shutdown and restaurant closure after 7pm in the districts of Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kaski, Rupandehi, Chitwan, Banke, Parsa, Kailali, Morang, Dang, Surkhet, Bara and Baglung.
The appeal from the ministry comes amid a surge in Covid-19 cases in different parts of the country. Public health experts fear that the country might be going through a second wave of infections involving a more virulent variant of the coronavirus (B.1.1.7) that was first detected in the United Kingdom.
Besides school shutdown and early restaurant closure, the ministry has also recommended the general public to avoid places like health clubs, malls, movie theaters, places of worship and festival processions to reduce their risk of catching the virus.
“As the Health Ministry is not an agency to enforce restrictions, we cannot give orders,” Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, joint spokesperson at the Health Ministry, told the Post. “We can only recommend the concerned agencies [to enforce restrictions] and appeal to the public.”
This is the second time in a week the ministry has advised school closure to contain the coronavirus spread. Earlier this week, the ministry had recommended shutting down schools in densely populated areas for at least three weeks following a rise in Covid-19 cases among schoolchildren and their family members.
The Health Ministry on Thursday said it recorded 490 new Covid-19 cases and five deaths in the past 24 hours. Taking the country’s overall infection numbers to 282,054 and fatalities to 3,066.
The number of active cases stood at 4,384 as of Thursday.
The ministry has said that a drastic change has been seen in the age groups of the affected people, with an increasing number of children and young people getting seriously ill and dying because of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, in light of the growing number of cases in the country, the Health Ministry has directed all state-run hospitals to allocate 50 percent of their beds for Covid-19 patients. It has also instructed the hospitals to provide free treatment to Covid-19 patients, run fever clinics and collect swab samples for polymerase chain reaction tests.
The ministry has also asked hospitals not to trouble patients by referring them to other hospitals if they test positive for coronavirus infection.
Private hospitals have been allowed to charge additional 50 percent on the standard treatment fee of Rs 3,500 for normal patients, Rs 7,000 for moderately ill patients and Rs 15,000 for seriously ill patients.
The Health Ministry has also directed private laboratories not to charge more than Rs 2,000 for polymerase chain reaction tests.
To ensure that health workers are not overworked, the ministry has decided to deploy doctors who have completed MD/MCH/MD/MS/MDS on scholarship for first-on-call duty (emergency). The ministry has also directed hospitals to run extended health services and prohibited private practices to those doctors.