Karnali launches campaign for mass coronavirus testingThe drive aims to conduct tests on around 10,000 people suspected of having Covid-19.
Karnali Province has launched a medical campaign called ‘medical march’ with an objective to conduct tests on around 10,000 suspects of coronavirus infection. The medical drive formally kicked off from Saturday.
The provincial executive has dispatched medical teams to 27 places of all 10 districts in the federal unit. According to Social Development Minister Dal Rawal, around 200 health workers, including doctors, have been mobilised to detect possible cases of Covid-19.
“Under the campaign, health workers will reach each ward and conduct tests on recent returnees. The health teams will conduct tests using rapid diagnostic test kits and also collect swabs for the polymerase chain reaction method. The campaign is aimed at assessing the situation of coronavirus in the province,” said Rawal, adding that the province will give continuity to the medical march for at least 10 days. “We plan to expand coronavirus testing in every settlement of each ward through pool testing technology, wherein at least ten swabs will be tested collectively.”
There are a total of 718 wards across 79 local units in Karnali Province.
Karnali Province, the largest and remotest federal unit of the country, has not reported a single positive case so far. But many say it’s just a matter of time before positive cases begin to surface in the province given the large influx of Nepali migrant workers from India and other parts of the country in recent months. Every year, the province sees a mass exodus of people to Kalapahad and other cities in India in search of jobs.
Keeping in view the large influx of migrant workers and the rise of Covid-19 cases in its neighbouring provinces of Sudurpaschim and Province 5, the Karnali government made the decision to expand testing for the disease.
“We have sent medical teams in the villages and remote areas for mass testing. We will set up isolation wards and provide treatment in the villages itself if positive cases come to light. If no positive cases are found during the campaign, we will coordinate with the federal government and declare Karnali a ‘coronavirus-free’ province,” said Rawal.
According to the Social Development Ministry, 11 doctors from the Provincial Hospital in Surkhet and nine doctors from the Jumla-based Karnali Academy of Health Sciences have been deployed under the medical march campaign.
“The doctors of the respective districts and local health workers of the local bodies are also mobilised in the medical campaign,” said Rawal.
The provincial government used helicopters to dispatch the medical teams in remote areas of Dolpa, Humla and Mugu districts on Saturday and Sunday.
The government on May 4 completely sealed off the province for a week. However, Laxmi Kumari Basnet, the member secretary of the Province Crisis Management Centre, said that the border seal would continue until further notice.
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.