Karnali Province completely sealed off for a weekEven though the province hasn’t reported any cases so far, the provincial government decided to exercise caution in light of the growing coronavirus cases in two neighbouring provinces.
The Karnali provincial government has decided to completely seal off the province for seven days starting Monday as its neighbouring provinces reported a rise in cases of Covid-19.
A meeting of the Crisis Management Council, a provincial body formed in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, on Monday also decided to send physicians to 27 areas across the province to intensify testing.
“Physicians and health workers will be deployed to the offices of rural municipalities and major market areas,” said Dal Rawal, provincial Minister of Social Development and coordinator of the High Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control. “The team will intensify testing and, if necessary, set up isolation wards,” he said following a meeting of the body chaired by Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi,
The announcement came as neighbouring Sudurpaschim province and Province 5 have reported five and 17 cases respectively so far.
Following the decision, no one will be allowed to enter or leave the province for seven days. The majority of health workers being deployed are from Karnali Provincial Hospital in Surkhet and the Jumla-based Karnali Health and Science Academy. Health workers from state-run health centres and district hospitals from each district will also be deployed if necessary, said Rawal.
During the ongoing lockdown, as many as 10,332 people rescued from various parts of the country have entered Karnali Province via Surkhet, according to the District Police Office, Surkhet. “Even during the lockdown, we have rescued residents of Karnali who were stranded in various parts of the country,” Inspector Gopal Rayamajhi, spokesperson for the office told the Post. “The movement will now be stopped.”
While the local units have rescued residents from various parts of the country, the rate of testing has been low for the lack of viral transport medium needed to transport swab samples, said Om Acharya, lab coordinator at the Provincial Health Directive.
“The low rate of testing is worrying,” he said. As of Monday, the province has tested 169 samples using the polymerase chain reaction method. None of the samples have tested positive so far. Over 5,300 rapid tests have also been conducted.
The province had brought two polymerase chain reaction machines seeking to accelerate testing. But the machines have hardly come to use since the province lacks equipment needed to transport swab samples, Acharya said.
Moreover, the directorate’s lab also lacks supplementary medical equipment needed for the machines, according to Reeta Bhandari, director at the provincial health directorate.
Because of this reason, returnees who have been quarantined are yet to be tested. Individuals in the quarantine facilities have been sent home after 14 days without testing.
“In an ideal situation, all individuals in quarantine should have been tested, but that has not happened,” Bhandari said. “Now we are planning to test select samples from the quarantined people who show symptoms of the disease.”
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of June 2, 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 213 countries and infected more than 6,321,836 people with 375,657 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 198,140 with 5,608 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 72,460 confirmed cases with 1,543 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 1,811 cases with eight 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.