Nepali Congress demands provincial halt to rapid diagnostic tests in Province 1A meeting of the Nepali Congress Provincial Assembly Party on Thursday decided to draw the attention of the government to stop RDTs immediately questioning its efficacy.
The main opposition Nepali Congress has demanded the provincial government halt rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) in Province 1.
On Thursday evening, a meeting of the party’s provincial assembly outfit decided to draw the attention of the government to stop RDTs immediately questioning its efficacy.
Kedar Karki, chief whip of Nepali Congress in Province 1, said the meeting demanded the provincial government stop RDTs immediately and expand coronavirus testing using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method in coordination with federal and local governments.
“Although the rapid diagnostic tests are being carried out extensively, their results have been doubtful. Hence the government should expedite tests through the PCR method,” said Karki, adding that the data from the provincial government showed that the RDT positive individuals don't register as positives under PCR testing and vice-versa.
For instance, RDT test results of 16 individuals, including 12 Indian nationals staying at Nuri Masjid in Bhulke, Triyuga Municipality were found negative on April 15. But they tested positive under the PCR method.
Karki said that samples of suspects tested using both the methods have not yielded the same result in all 14 districts of Province 1. “The provincial government is using RDT kits which the federal government purchased from Omni Business Corporate International, a private firm,” said Karki.
The Ministry of Health and Population’s procurement process of purchasing RDT kit had landed in controversy after it was revealed that the ministry had awarded the contract to the private firm without following the Public Procurement Regulation.
The federal government has already sent 8,000 RDT kits to Province 1. Until now, 5,089 individuals have undergone rapid diagnostic tests in the province. Among them, 13 were found positive. Of the 1,250 coronavirus tests done through the PCR method in the province, 31 have tested positive.
“We don’t know why the government is giving importance to RDTs after several states of India have stopped using the same brand of rapid diagnostic test kits saying they are unreliable. Why is the provincial government supporting irregularities of the federal government?” said Karki.
The meeting has also decided to draw the attention of the provincial government to perform PCR tests of residents of Gaighat bazaar, Motigadha, Deudi and Jaljale areas as 24 individuals from the neighbouring village of Bhulke in Triyuga Municipality tested positive for coronavirus. “We have also demanded that a coronavirus treatment centre be established in Udayapur,” said Karki.
Meanwhile, Hikmat Karki, minister of internal affairs, also the spokesperson for Province 1 government, said, “We have requested the federal government to clarify on the use of RDT kits. For the time being, there are only two PCR laboratories in the province. We have also asked the federal government to expand testing through the PCR method here.”
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of September 22, 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 has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world and infected more than 31,405,983 people with 967,505 deaths and 22,990,260 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,557,573 with 88,943 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 306,304 confirmed cases with 6,420 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 65,276 cases with 427 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.