Biratnagar shuts all non-essential services while Inaruwa goes under lockdown as infections riseHealth unit claims community transmission of coronavirus in Biratnagar; Social Development Ministry in Province 1 says it’s too early to confirm.
Biratnagar Metropolitan City has decided to shut all services, except for essential ones, until further notice from Monday.
The decision comes on the heels of the health unit of Biratnagar metropolis confirming community transmission of coronavirus in the city.
According to the health unit, 14 people with no travel history to coronavirus hotspots have tested positive for the virus in the last few days.
Ramesh Karki, chief at the health division of the city office, said the local governments in Morang district have also decided to take strict measures to curb the spread of the virus in communities.
“No one will be allowed to go out without wearing face masks in public spaces. They will have to follow strict measures if they are to step out of their homes,” said Karki. “We are currently in discussion with the Chief District Officer to look at the possibility of closing down government offices too to prevent crowds of service seekers.”
Biratnagar city authority has also intensified swab collection for testing and contact tracing in local communities to stem the virus from spreading further. “We have requested the provincial government to widen the range of swab collection. Earlier we used to collect 50 swab samples per day, but now we aim to collect swab samples of at least 150 to 200 people daily,” said Karki.
Meanwhile, Dr Suresh Mehata, chief at the public health division of Social Development Ministry in Province 1, said it was still too early to determine the extent or the severity of the virus transmission at the community level.
“We cannot confirm community transmission of coronavirus just yet. The PCR test results of the collected swab samples will determine the extent of the spread,” said Mehata.
Among the latest coronavirus-infected patients in Biratnagar are 20 police personnel based in Province 1 Police Office. The office was sealed on Thursday after the infection was detected among the security personnel.
“Swab samples of 150 security personnel were collected on Thursday and sent to the lab for testing. On Saturday 19 of the samples came back positive for the virus. Infection in one officer was confirmed a few days earlier,” said Dipak Pokharel, the spokesperson at the provincial police office.
One of the police officers who tested positive for the virus is a native of Mahendrachok of Inaruwa in Sunsari.
Since he had visited his home regularly in the past few weeks, local authorities in Inaruwa have reimposed a lockdown in the town from Sunday.
“We collected swabs of 12 members of the officer’s family and of 29 others who had come in his contact while he was in Mahendrachok. The samples have been sent to Dharan-based BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences for tests on Sunday,” said Inaruwa Mayor Rajan Mehata.
In Ilam, six security personnel deployed at a quarantine facility set up in the building of the District Coordination Committee in Ilam Municipality tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday.
A man staying at the facility, a municipal employee and a local of Mai Municipality have also tested positive, taking the number of infections in Ilam to 38.
In Jhapa, 20 Armed Police Force personnel deployed at the Indo-Nepal border in Kakadbhitta have also tested positive for coronavirus infection.
“The infected security personnel have been taken to a Covid-19 treatment hospital in Morang” said Jivan Chamlagain, the focal person of the District Health Office in Jhapa. “
As of Sunday, a total of 964 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Province 1 while conducting 39,112 PCR tests. Among them, 735 have returned home after treatment.
Arjun Rajbanshi from Jhapa and Biplaw Bhattarai from Ilam contributed reporting.