Protect citizens’ right to health, NHRC tells governmentRights watchdog issues a statement in the wake of media reports claiming the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage samples collected from various areas in Kathmandu.
The National Human Rights Commission has urged the government to protect the citizens’ right to health in the wake of rising cases of Covid-19.
Issuing a statement on Sunday, the national rights watchdog said its attention was drawn to the media reports claiming the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in sewage samples collected from various areas in Kathmandu.
“As per several media reports claiming the detection of the Covid-19 [virus] in Kathmandu sewage, which scientists and researchers believe is a sign of community transmission, we urge the government to take necessary steps to identify the affected areas and control the spread of the disease,” read the statement.
The constitutional commission also stressed that the government is yet to increase PCR testing despite the commission urging it to do so.
“We again urge the Nepal government to expedite PCR testing and guarantee the citizens’ right to health,” the statement read.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of August 10, 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 19,773,447 people with 729,393 deaths and 12,545,567 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 2,153,010 with 423,379 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 284,121 confirmed cases with 6,082 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 22,972 cases with 75 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.