Covid-19 testing service starts at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in DharanGovernment working to set up similar facilities in Nepalgunj, Hetauda and Pokhara.
The government has started Covid-19 tests from outside the Capital as well.
The Ministry of Health and Population said specimens now can be tested at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Dharan. This is the second facility in the country which now can test specimens for Covid-19. Until Sunday, the National Public Health Laboratory was the only facility for coronavirus tests in the country.
“We have started coronavirus testing service at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences,” Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, director general at the Department of Health Services, told the Post. “With this new facility, we do not have to transport specimens of suspected patients infected with coronavirus from Province 1. We have supplied sufficient testing kits and equipment to the Dharan hospital.”
According to Shrestha, the Department of Health Services is also working to set up a laboratory in Nepalgunj of Province 5, Hetauda of Bagmati Province and Pokhara of Gandaki Province.
A lack of laboratories in all provinces and viral transport media are also the major causes of low number of tests in Nepal, due to which authorities are not yet sure about the exact number of Covid-19 cases.
So far Nepal has reported five Covid-19 cases, four live ones, but experts say if the scope of tests is broadened, more cases could surface.
Despite the World Health Organization urging all member states to conduct tests, Nepal has not been able to expedite testing on a wider population.
The number of samples tested so far stands at around just 600.
Officials hope more tests and in an easier manner could be possible now as Nepal has acquired additional test kits from China.
Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi on Sunday handed over medical items— personal protective equipment, testing kits and n-95masks, among other material— to Health Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal.
The Health Ministry on Sunday also launched a website covid19.mohp.gov.np to provide detailed information about the disease.
“We will try to put all the latest information regarding Covid-19 on this website,” said Dr Bikash Devkota, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population. “We will also put all the information issued by our ministry on this website.”
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of June 2, 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 6,321,836 people with 375,657 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 198,140 with 5,608 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 72,460 confirmed cases with 1,543 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 1,811 cases with eight 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.