Rapid tests halted in three Karnali districts due to shortage of RDT kitsThe Provincial Health Directorate had dispatched around 5,000 kits to all 10 districts of Karnali Province last week.
Rapid testing for Covid-19 has been halted in three districts of Karnali Province due to a shortage of Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) kits.
According to the Provincial Health Directorate in Birendranagar, testing for the novel coronavirus has been suspended in Surkhet, Salyan and Mugu in the absence of RDT kits. Other districts of the province are also running low on RDT kits, and their stock will last them only till Sunday, said the health directorate.
The health directorate had distributed around 5,000 RDT kits among the 10 districts of Karnali Province to test the people suspected of having contracted coronavirus.
“We have tested 2,724 people till Friday. Except for a man from Khatyad in Mugu, all other test reports came out negative. We are using the remaining kits to test more people,” said Rita Bhandari, director at the Provincial Health Directorate.
The health directorate distributed 1,260 RDT kits to Surkhet while Salyan and Mugu were given 600 and 140 kits respectively.
“Rapid testing has been halted as all kits were used by Friday. We requested the health directorate in Surkhet to dispatch additional kits but were informed that there are not enough kits in Surkhet,” said Dr Nirmal Nagarkoti, chief at the district health office in Mugu. According to him, preparations are underway to send the throat and nasal swabs of the man who tested positive for the disease during rapid testing to Surkhet for the PRC test.
Although the health directorate had dispatched RDT kits to all districts in the Karnali Province a week ago, the kits are yet to reach some remote villages. It takes about four to five days to reach some remote villages in Humla, Mugu and Dolpa districts from their district headquarters, and several settlements are not covered by mobile networks. Officials say that the remoteness of the villages make it challenging to conduct mass testings.
The test kits reached Dolpa, a remote district of the province, only on Friday, a week after the kits were dispatched.
“We received 140 RDT kits on Friday. We conducted tests on three persons the same day and all the reports came out negative,” said Dr Sijan Rawal, chief at the district health office in Dolpa. He complained that 140 kits are not enough to cover the district.
“There are 130 people staying in quarantine facilities in various places of Dolpa. We need at least 500 kits,” said Rawal.
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.