Province 5 to perform rapid diagnostic tests on all individuals staying in quarantine facilitiesDhaulagiri Zonal Hospital in Baglung has also started conducting rapid diagnostic tests from Thursday morning.
In a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Province 5 government has decided to perform rapid diagnostic tests on all individuals staying in quarantine facilities in all 12 districts of the province. The total number of people quarantined in the province stands at 2,506.
Sudarshan Baral, minister of Social Development, said his office has started conducting rapid diagnostic tests on those who have completed two weeks in quarantine.
On Thursday, the ministry deployed six teams of health workers to test the health condition of individuals staying in various quarantine facilities in the province. Each team is assigned to cover two districts.
“Every individual who has completed two weeks in quarantine will undergo RDTs from Thursday. If their reports are found negative, they will be sent homes. If the results are positive, we will send the samples to Kathmandu-based Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital for further tests,” he said.
On Thursday, the federal government sent 5,000 rapid diagnostic test kits to Province 5. A team of health workers, led by Dr Ramesh Kharel, delivered the kits and necessary medical equipment to the province’s Ministry of Social Development. The team also took stock of the situation in Province 5.
So far, 152 swabs have been collected from Covid-19 suspects in Province 5. Among them, 125 have tested negative for the disease while the results for the remaining 27 are yet to come. Dr Umashankar Chaudhary, chief at the Health Division in the Ministry of Social Development, said, “As of now, 33 coronavirus suspected individuals are receiving treatment at various coronavirus-specific hospitals in Butwal, Dang and Banke.”
Rapid diagnostic tests for Covid-19 are currently being performed at the Province Public Health Laboratory in Bhairahawa. The lab has so far tested 36 samples, out of which 31 have tested negative for the disease. The results of the remaining five samples are yet to come, said Chaudhary.
Dhaulagiri Zonal Hospital in Baglung also started conducting rapid diagnostic tests Thursday morning onwards. Dr Shailendra Pokharel, medical superintendent of the hospital, said health personnel can test a sample within 15 minutes through this process.
“We are planning to test 900 to 1,000 samples in Baglung using RDTs,” said Pokharel. According to the local administration’s data, 900 individuals have arrived in the district from India and abroad in the past month.
Gaulochan Sainju, chief district officer of Baglung, said the district has so far received 1,000 rapid diagnostic test kits. “We plan to conduct tests for up to 100 individuals in a day,” said Sainju.
Kailali and Kanchanpur districts also started performing rapid diagnostic tests from Thursday. Ram Prasad Ojha, the lab inspector at the Provincial Public Health Laboratory in Dhangadhi, said 20 lab technicians from Kailali and Kanchanpur have been mobilised to conduct the test.
Prakash Baral in Baglung and Arjun Shah in Kailali contributed reporting.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of May 27, 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 210 countries and infected more than 5,684,795 people with 352,225 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 150,793 with 4,344 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 57,705 confirmed cases with 1,197 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 772 cases with four 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.