Security personnel working in high risk zone of Covid -19 lack proper safety gearNepal Police personnel are being mobilised for contact tracing and transporting suspected patients to health facilities.
On Monday, the Banke District Administration Office in Province 5 decided to seal off Nepalgunj Sub-metropolitan City from 11 am Tuesday until Thursday midnight. The decision was made after 16 Covid-19 cases were confirmed in the city.
To enforce the decision, the authorities have mobilised additional security personnel. However, there is a widespread concern among the security personnel as they lack proper safety gear to do their jobs properly.
“We have mobilised over 1,200 police personnel throughout the city. But many of them do not have proper safety gear like masks and gloves, which is a serious cause for concern,” Superintendent of Police Bir Bahadur Oli, chief of District Police Office, Banke, told the Post.
“Due to insufficient precautionary equipment, we are providing them to only those personnel who have to go to the hotspot area.”
Oli said the District Police Office has requested the Nepal Police Headquarters to send safety gear for the personnel mobilised in Nepalgunj.
With the rise in Covid-19 cases in Province 5, the neighbouring Karnali Province has also decided to seal off the entire province for six days.
But just like in Province 5, security personnel in Karnali Province are also dealing with the shortage of safety gear.
According to former deputy inspector general of police Hemanta Malla, Nepal Police personnel are at risk of contracting the coronavirus without proper safety equipment, as they are also being mobilised in contact tracing and patient transportation jobs.
“Besides enforcing the lockdown orders, police personnel are also being used to locate suspected Covid-19 patients and bring them to the designated health facilities for testing and treatment. Ideally, those jobs should be done by paramedics,” Malla told the Post. “If the authorities are using police personnel for these jobs, then they should at least provide them with proper safety gear to keep them protected from possible infection.”
Deputy Inspector General Niraj Bahadur Shahi, spokesperson for the Nepal Police, said that the police force was ready to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safety gear to all the personnel working in the infected areas.
“We are supplying the safety equipment as per the demand from the district police offices,” Shahi said.
Inspector General of Police Thakur Gyawali, chief of the Nepal Police, has also recently instructed the provincial police heads to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of officers, particularly those deployed in the coronavirus-affected areas.
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.