In Karnali, quarantined individuals are getting sick while medical attention has been hard to come byAs Karnali Province reports more than 250 cases within just two weeks since the virus was first detected, the provincial and local governments are struggling to manage resources.
Forty-five-year-old Bam Bahadur Thapa had gone to India to treat his jaundice but had to return to Nepal recently without receiving any treatment. As is the norm for all returnees, he was placed at a quarantine facility in his home district of Dailekh. However, Thapa’s health condition is getting worse during his stay at the facility.
“I have received no medical help despite repeated pleas with authorities at the quarantine centre,” he told the Post. “What do I do now?”
Many others like Thapa at the Janata Secondary School quarantine in Dailekh, which houses 80 individuals, are suffering from various diseases. But the quarantine administration has paid no attention, Thapa said.
Four people are suffering from diarrhoea, which is one of the less common symptoms of Covid-19. Three people had mild strokes recently but their swab samples have not been collected, let alone tested.
“The rooms are crowded; there are over 20 people crammed in my room,” Thapa said. “Some people drink alcohol and the smell gets everywhere.”
Many of those quarantined have wanted to flee the facility, Jagat Thapa, one of the quarantined individuals, said. But the people’s representatives have warned them against it. “The representatives have told us there would be consequences if we let the information of the facility’s dire situation out,” he said. “Mayor and deputy mayor often visit us but they have paid no attention to the situation we are living in.”
More worryingly, most people haven’t been tested in over ten days since they were put in quarantine, Thapa added. There are no health workers deployed at the facility. Savitri Malla, deputy mayor of Narayan Municipality, said the local unit has not been able to conduct Covid-19 tests on the quarantined, as it lacks testing kits.
“We are planning to send health workers to attend to the sick,” Malla said.
Things are worse in nearby Bhairabi Rural Municipality, where as many as 24 individuals have been kept in a single room, and people haven’t been tested in 11 days since they were quarantined.
“We were told we’d be released after 14 days but our swabs have yet to be collected, let alone tested,” Santosh Shahi said. “If we have to stay like this for a few more days, we’d get sick of coronavirus or some other diseases.”
As Karnali Province reported over 250 cases within just two weeks since the virus was first detected, the provincial government has been struggling to manage resources and isolation facilities to house the infected. Dozens of infected are still at quarantine facilities for a lack of isolation centres.
In Salyan, for instance, 17 people who have tested positive for the disease are yet to be moved from two quarantine centres in the district. The two facilities house 440 individuals, all of whom are returnees from India.
Mohan Khadka, chief administrative officer in Bangadkupinde Municipality, said the infected have been transferred to a different room within the quarantine facility to avoid the spread of the virus.
“A 100-bed isolation ward at the district hospital is still under construction. Until the ward’s completion, the infected will be placed in quarantine facilities with extra scrutiny,” he said.
As of Wednesday, Karnali Province has reported 269 cases, of which 56 are from Salyan.
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.