Testing stepped up in Banke as it emerges as hotspot for Covid-19With 24 positive cases in Nepalgunj, authorities are focusing on tracing contacts of those infected to control the spread of the virus.
Thakur Singh Tharu
Authorities have stepped up testing in Banke district in Province 5 after it emerged as a hotspot for Covid-19 infections with 108 samples collected on Monday alone.
Controlling the possible spread of the disease in the district with the highest number of cases, after Udaypur, has become a challenge for officials as people are still crossing the border from India, where the number of cases have been rising steadily, despite the lockdown and the sealing of crossing points.
“The border is porous. People enter into Nepal at night,” said Mohammad Istiyak Sah, chairman of Narainapur Rural Municipality in Banke. “There is no doubt that coronavirus will spread if the Nepal-India border is not completely closed and monitored,” he said.
On Monday, officials collected 108 samples—82 from Jayaspur of Nepalgunj, 14 from Khajura Rural Municipality, six each in Bheri Hospital and Nepal Army Hospital in Nepalgunj. With 24 positive cases of Covid-19 in Nepalgunj so far, authorities are focusing on contact tracing to control the spread of the coronavirus in the area.
“We are focusing on contact tracing after people were found infected with the virus. The collection of swabs and their laboratory tests are going on,” said Naresh Shrestha, the focal person at the District Health Office. He said authorities intensified Covid-19 tests through the polymerase chain reaction method for those who have come in contact with the infected persons, and those living near the border.
On Sunday, health teams collected 30 swab samples from Jayaspur and Kohalpur. Throat swabs of 162 people from ward No. 8 and 11 of the sub-metropolis had been collected on Saturday and sent to Kathmandu for testing. Similarly, the health workers had collected 75 swab samples from Jama Mosque area and ward No. 11 of Nepalgunj on the same day.
“Reports of the samples sent to Kathmandu are not in yet. The PCR tests onf 61 of the total 75 samples collected at Bheri Hospital in Nepalgunj yielded negative results on Monday. Reports for 14 other samples are yet to be made public,” said Shrestha.
People’s representatives from various municipalities in the area said that people who have come to Banke recently have not reported to authorities fearing compulsory quarantine. “We came to know that two villagers returned home from New Delhi just a few days ago. They did not come forward, but we managed to trace them and have asked them to self-isolate at home. We will soon test them,” said Kismat Kumar Kakshapati, chairman of Khajura Rural Municipality of Banke that borders India.
As many as 21 workers had entered Narainapur through Suiya border point in Banke last week. Local authorities have kept all of them in a quarantine facility at a local community school.
Meanwhile, the first person to test positive for Covid-19 in Nepalgunj, tested positive yet again a week into receiving treatment at an isolation ward at Sushil Koirala Prakhar Cancer Hospital, Khajura.
The health condition of the patient is normal, said Dr Prakash Thapa, chief at Bheri Hospital. According to the guidelines for treatment of Covid-19 patients, the infected person should undergo a PCR test after a week. “We tested the person’s swab on Monday. The report came positive. We will again retest after a week,” said Thapa.
According to him, 23 individuals from Jolahanpurwa in Nepalgunj Sub Metropolis are also receiving treatment at the isolation ward in Sushil Koirala Prakhar Cancer Hospital. “All of them will also undergo PCR tests after receiving treatment for a week,” said Thapa.
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.