Health workers, security personnel in Province 2 are screening people for coronavirus without protective gearA majority of health desks at the border point are without necessary medical equipment.
Ministers and provincial assembly members of Province 2 have called for adopting preventive measures to check the spread of Covid-19. Saroj Yadav, speaker for the provincial assembly, asked the government to start preparations to control the spread.
The ministers and provincial assembly members may have started to attend meetings wearing face masks, but similar precautionary measures have not been implemented at health desks established along Nepal-India borders of Province 2.
Two health workers have been deployed at the Malangawa border point in Sarlahi with a thermometer to screen the incoming traffic. Malangawa Municipality had established the health desk on March 5.
When the Post reached the border point on Wednesday, the health workers were going about their duty without face masks. Kusheshowr Sah, one of the health assistants at the health desk, said the municipality’s health section only provided them with a thermometer for screening people.
“We have been deployed at the health desk from 9am to 5pm but we haven’t been given face masks and other essential medical equipment to screen people,” he said. “I purchased a face mask from the bazaar but it didn’t help.”
Masks, gloves, apron, and protective glasses are essential materials to screen people for Covid-19, say health officials.
A week ago, the Health Office in Parsa had notified and requested the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division in Kathmandu to provide masks, test kits, sanitiser spray machines, laser thermometer, poster pamphlets and gowns for health workers and security personnel. Kameshwor Chaurasiya, chief of the health office, said health workers and security personnel at the border points are on the frontline and need protective gear for their own safety and that of those who come in contact with them.
“We have sent the letter to the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division demanding the safety materials,” said Chaurasiya. “But the equipment and gear are yet to arrive.”
Meanwhile, the health workers deployed at the health desk in Birgunj-Raxaul border point said they are having a hard time screening passengers because of the overwhelming number. “If we start to screen all passengers at the border point, there will be a traffic jam. It’s impossible to screen everybody,” said Jahir Alam, a health assistant.
Arun Mahato, chief at the Health Division of Birgunj Metropolis, advised the locals against going to Raxaul bazaar except for important works. “We plan to add more health workers at the health desk and step up the screening process,” said Mahato.
In Rautahat, most of the health workers are not willing to work at the health desk on the border. Gaur Municipality has established a health desk at the customs point in Gaur. Two health workers Kumari Pabe, a senior auxiliary nurse midwife, and Nisha Jaiswal, an auxiliary health worker, have been deployed there.
“It’s just the two of us here at the health desk. We are working an eight-hour shift,” Pabe said. “The municipality has directed health workers to work at the health desk until the border closes but no one is willing to work here.”
In Siraha, the local administration has established health desks with thermal scanners and medical teams at Madar, Thadi and Bariyarpatti border points. Gopal Kumar Adhikari, chief district officer, said the local administration has kept health workers and security personnel on high alert. “We are also going to establish an isolation ward in the hospital soon,” said Adhikari.
Om Prakash Thakur in Sarlahi, Bhusan Yadav in Birgunj, Shiva Puri in Rautahat, and Bharat Jarghamagar in Siraha contributed reporting.