Birtamod Municipality starts mass screening while under lockdownThe sole isolation centre in Jhapa reaches its capacity within first four days of its operation.
Birtamod Municipality in Jhapa has started mass screening of people after imposing lockdown for an indefinite period on Monday.
On Friday, a team of health workers from the municipality collected swab samples of pharmacists, bank employees, grocery store operators and vegetable sellers, among other people, for PCR test.
According to municipal officials, they have started collecting swab samples of individuals who have come in contact with Covid-19 patients. Within a week, the municipality had collected 844 swab samples and sent them to the lab for testing.
Om Khadka, the coordinator of Covid-19 Prevention and Control Committee in Birtamod, said the municipality will test at least 1,000 swab samples under the mass screening programme.
“Two weeks ago, a medicine supplier and a local political leader in Barhadashi Rural Municipality tested positive for coronavirus. Both of them had visited Birtamod and were in contact with pharmacists,” said Khadka. “Mass screening will help identify the situation of coronavirus spread in the community.”
According to the District Health Office in Jhapa, mass screening has also started in Barhadashi Rural Municipality, Arjundhara and Mechinagar municipalities. Jeevan Chamlagain, the focal person of the District Health Office in Jhapa, said around 600 swab samples have been collected from various wards and sent to Biratnagar and Dharan laboratories for testing.
Meanwhile, a 25-bed isolation centre of Mechi Hospital in Jhapa got fully occupied on Thursday, within four days of its operation. The hospital started admitting Covid-19 patients on Monday.
Since the isolation centre was full to its capacity, two Covid-19 patients from Mechinagar, who tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, are kept in a quarantine facility of Dhaijan Health Post.
Mechi Hospital’s isolation is the only isolation centre in Jhapa.
“All beds of the isolation centre are occupied now. We demand the local administration and local units to take initiatives in setting up more isolation centres,” Chamlagain said.
Until Friday, 393 people had tested positive for coronavirus in Jhapa. Among them, 340 have been discharged so far. Dr Pitambar Thakur, medical superintendent of Mechi Hospital, said, “There’s no space to add more beds in the isolation centre at Mechi Hospital. The local authorities should look for other alternatives.”
Four months ago, the provincial government had decided to establish a Covid-19 hospital in Jhapa. The government had chosen the under-construction building of Mechi Hospital as Covid hospital but the construction work is yet to be completed.
According to Chamlagain, the provincial government had planned to build a 50-bed Covid Hospital in Bhadrapur and upgrade a Dhaijan-based health post to an isolation centre.
“But the plans are yet to materialise. The number of coronavirus patients is increasing by the day and we don’t know when these health facilities will be ready to start operation,” Chamlagain said.
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.