Coronavirus testing hospitals in Province 1 shirk their responsibilityPatients with flu-like symptoms are being referred to BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences without tests, doctors at Dharan-based hospital say.
The government has designated various hospitals in Province 1 to treat Covid-19 patients and collect their swab samples for lab tests . But many of these hospitals have been reportedly referring all patients with Covid-19-like symptoms to the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Dharan without running any tests.
Of late, the flow of patients at the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences has increased, which has led to the shortage of medical essentials at the hospital.
“The other hospitals are directly referring the patients here without making sure if they need Covid-19 tests,” one of the doctors at the Dharan-based hospital told the Post.
“The government has provided Viral Transport Medium, Personal Protective Kits and other equipment to these hospitals to collect swab samples. But they are not using them. Meanwhile, our hospital is running out of supplies,” said the doctor who did not wish to be identified.
The provincial government has said that patients can undergo swab tests for coronavirus infection at Koshi, Nobel and Birat hospitals in Biratnagar and some hospitals in Jhapa.
But most of these hospitals have not been conducting the tests on the patients with the complaints of fever, common cold and other respiratory problems.
Dr Surya Prasad Rimal, assistant professor at the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, said the hospital’s emergency ward was dealing with a sudden influx of patients, most of them suffering from flu-like symptoms.
“The patients who could easily get treatment at their local health facilities are also being referred to the hospital as suspected Covid-19 patients” Rimal told the Post.
The BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences started conducting Covid-19 swab tests four days ago. As of Friday, the hospital has conducted 39 tests, 24 of which were negative while the other test results are awaited.
“We just started the test service from our hospital, but some patients are not convinced with the results,” Dr Ashok Air, spokesperson at the hospital, told the Post, recalling one incident where a patient had questioned the accuracy of the test after his results came negative for coronavirus infection.
The lab of BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences can perform 12 swab samples at a single time.
“It takes 10 to 12 hours to complete the test. We use the WHO-approved advanced molecular technology to conduct the test, so there is no reason to doubt the results,” Dr Narayan Bhattarai, of the Microbiology Department at the hospital, told the Post.
The BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences is the second health institution in the country to collect samples and run Covid-19 tests after Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Diseases Hospital in Teku, Kathmandu.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of May 30, 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 6,029,950 people with 366,802 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 173,491 with 4,980 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 64,028 confirmed cases with 1,317 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 1401 cases with six 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.