Authorities seal off two places in Bhaktapur and a hospital premises in Lalitpur after Covid-19 confirmationsAll travel passes have been revoked following Covid-19 flare-up as the government plans to drastically limit the movement of people to stop the infection.
Authorities in Kathmandu Valley have made a series of decisions in a bid to drastically limit the movement of people after three coronavirus cases were confirmed in the Valley on Tuesday.
The decisions include sealing off the areas where infected individuals were staying and revoking all existing travel passes.
The authorities on Wednesday instructed the security agencies to seal off the areas in the Valley where the infected individuals were living and decided to ramp up tests and contact tracing to stem possible outbreaks of the virus.
Following the instruction, security personnel cordoned off two areas in Bhaktapur where the latest cases of coronavirus infection were detected.
“Duwakot and Sankhadhar Chowk in Bhaktapur have been sealed off and we have increased vigilance by deploying our personnel in the field,” said Superintendent Sabin Pradhan, chief of the Bhaktapur Metropolitan Police Range. “The reports about infection have also prompted some locals in these areas to seal their neighbourhoods off.”
The premises of Arogya Foundation and Nidan Hospital in Pulchowk, Lalitpur, was also sealed off on Wednesday after a hospital employee tested positive for Covid-19.
The infected woman had recently returned to Kathmandu from a district in Tarai and was taken to Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku for polymerase chain reaction test. She was accompanied by a driver and a helper in an ambulance.
The foundation offers dialysis services to kidney patients and is located on the premises of Nidan Hospital. The foundation and hospital area have been declared off limits as a precautionary measure as the driver and the helper had rejoined regular work after taking the patient for the test.
According to Metropolitan Police Circle, Lalitpur, a team from National Public Health Laboratory is collecting swab samples from persons who had come in contact with the driver and the helper.
Authorities have also urged those who had come in contact with the driver, helper and who had used the ambulance services to stay in self-isolation, said a doctor at the hospital.
So far, eight Covid-19 cases have been reported in Kathmandu Valley—six in Kathmandu and two in Bhaktapur.
An exponential rise in the number of Covid-19 cases across the country, including in Kathmandu Valley, on Tuesday has forced the government into rethinking its approach to lockdown, which came into effect on March 24.
The latest lockdown is set to expire on May 18. A flare-up in Covid-19 cases comes at a time when the government is preparing for a phase-wise lifting of the lockdown. Restrictions have already been lifted, though partially, for several sectors.
The latest outbreaks of coronavirus would likely prompt the authorities to tighten the restrictions.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has already announced revoking all travel passes.
“The decision to tighten the restrictions came after the number of coronavirus cases soared in the country,” said Kedarnath Sharma, spokesperson for the ministry, told the Post. “All passes that have so far been issued by the concerned local administration offices have been scrapped.”
Sharma said those involved in essential services will have to apply for new passes.
The ministry has also announced that any individual travelling to Kathmandu Valley will have to secure the ministry’s permission in advance.
Movement restrictions will also apply to the press, Sharma said.
“Only those journalists with press passes issued by the Department of Information and Broadcasting would be allowed to move.”
Meanwhile, Nepal Police has decided to step up surveillance and strictly enforce the lockdown orders in light of the recent development.
“Nepal Police will enforce the lockdown more strictly from now on. People without valid passes will not be allowed to travel,” SSP Shyam Lal Gyawali, chief for the Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range, told the Post.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of May 26, 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 5,589,712 people with 347,903 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 144,950 with 4,172 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.