Frustration grows in quarantine centres as corona test results delayedWhile some people have resorted to protests, others have clashed with police demanding that their test results be made available at the earliest.
Frustrations are growing among people living in various coronavirus quarantine centres across the country as swab samples take more than a week to be processed.
While some people have resorted to protests at some centres, others have clashed with police demanding that their test results be made available at the earliest. A lack of basic amenities at most of the quarantine centres is also not helping the cause.
On Saturday, around 160 individuals, whose swab samples were collected a week ago, at a quarantine facility in Rajpur Municipality Ward No. 1, Rautahat, protested outside the centre demanding their test results be released at the earliest.
"They obstructed traffic on the road and pelted stones at security personnel," said Superintendent of Police Ravi Raj Khadka, head of Rautahat District Police Office. “Police fired two live rounds in the air and around a dozen rounds of tear gas shells to disperse the protestors."
Teams from the Armed Police Force and Nepal Army were also called in for help.
The situation is similar at other quarantine centres in the district. It has been three weeks since those who returned from India have been living in various quarantine facilities across Rautahat.
“Of the 7,500 people who have been kept in more than 100 quarantine facilities across the district, swab samples of around 6,000 individuals were collected a week ago,” said Chief District Officer of Rautahat Basudev Ghimire. But their results are yet to come in.
“I returned from India after I lost my job. I have been here for three weeks and my swab sample was collected nine days ago,” said a 22-year-old man at a quarantine facility in Rajpur. “I haven’t received my report and my family is worried.”
Last Monday, people quarantined in Dewahi Gonahi Municipality in Rautahat threatened to protest the delay in test results. They have been waiting for their test results for the past one-and-a-half weeks.
According to the Health Ministry, 714 Covid-19 cases have been reported in Rautahat as of Saturday. Of that, 109 people have been discharged after full recovery.
Province 2 has so far reported 2,465 cases of coronavirus infection, the highest in the country. Delays in PCR test results have compelled many to remain in quarantine for longer periods than necessary.
In Dailekh’s Narayan Municipality, four people sustained injuries as people in quarantine clashed with security personnel on Saturday. The clash took place as people attempted to leave the quarantine centre.
A man from Ward No. 11 of the municipality said he has been staying at a quarantine facility ever since he arrived from India on May 21. Authorities have confined him to the facility set up in the district headquarters, terming him as a patient.
“The police don’t let me go outside the room but they haven’t given us our lab report to confirm our infection. How long are we expected to stay here like this?” he said. “It has been nearly a month in here. My family members are very worried about me.”
Many like him, who have been staying in poorly managed quarantine facilities, have started demanding authorities to quickly release their PCR test results.
A 15-year-old boy infected with the virus told the Post that he was brought to the quarantine facility set up at Tribhuvan Secondary School after he had spent two weeks at Narayan Campus quarantine.
“We don’t know what an isolation ward is. We were shifted from one quarantine to another,” he said. “They collected our swab samples for a second test a week ago, but the result hasn’t come. That’s why we are compelled to protest against the authorities,” said the boy who sustained injuries to his head and back during the clash with security personnel on Saturday. “We were beaten up by security personnel while demanding our lab reports.”
Authorities are housing coronavirus suspects, whose PCR test result is yet to come, and coronavirus patients together in the same facility. According to the District Public Health Office, 14 out of 43 people staying at Tribhuvan Secondary School quarantine have yet to get their PCR test results, but they have been put together with the infected since their rapid diagnostic test results came positive.
“We still don’t know whether we are infected with the virus or not. But we are kept together with the infected. The authorities are putting us at risk by keeping us all together,” said another man injured in Saturday’s clash.
According to the Social Development Ministry of Karnali Province, a total of 1,104 people have been infected in the province as of Tuesday. Among them, 636 are from Dailekh alone.
The highly infectious virus has spread to all 11 local units of Dailekh district. According to Chief District Officer Yubaraj Kattel, 6,015 people are currently staying in several quarantine facilities in the district.
“The PCR reports of 1,136 swab samples sent a week ago are yet to come. It has been difficult for us to convince the quarantined individuals to stay put while awaiting test results," said Kattel. "Clashes erupted in some places, as people attempted to leave the quarantine facilities."
Deputy Superintendent of Police Hari Bahadur Oli said the delay in test results has increased security risk in the quarantine facilities.
“Clashes have broken out in some facilities in the past week since people are impatient to go home,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Rukum (West), various local units have sent scores of quarantined people home without receiving their PCR test reports. Sanibheri Rural Municipality sent 171 people home while Musikot Municipality allowed 134 people to go home.
“They stayed in quarantine for three weeks. There was no alternative but to let them go home due to the delay in PCR test reports,” said Narabir Khadka, the acting chief administrative officer of Musikot Municipality.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of July 14, 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 213 countries and infected more than 13,141,065 people with 573,319 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 906,617with 23,727 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 251,625 confirmed cases with 5,266 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 16,945 cases with 38 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.