Province 2 tightens border with India as Covid-19 precautionsOnly two borders—Raxaul and Jatahi—are open for transporting goods across the two countries, according to Koshhari Niraula, CDO of Dhanusha district.
As cases of coronavirus infections are rising steadily in neighbouring India, Nepal’s Province 2 has imposed a ‘near-total lockdown’ at its border points following a meeting on Saturday with the Indian security force. All eight districts of the province share borders with India—where the Covid-19 pandemic has infected over 280 people and killed four so far, and where a significant number of the districts’ population work. It is estimated that, on average, about 2,000 people travel across the border points every day.
“We have restricted movement across the border and have increased the number of security personnel at border points,” DIG Raju Aryal of Province 2 APF told the Post. According to Aryal, the lockdown came into effect since Saturday afternoon, while help desks and checkpoints have been set up in 75 spots across the border areas.
Meanwhile, only two borders—Raxaul and Jatahi—are open for transporting goods across the two countries, according to Koshhari Niraula, CDO of Dhanusha district. Niraula said authorities have started the process of converting Mujelia-based Manipal Hospital into a quarantine facility for contingent cases.
So far, the border security hasn’t detected any infected persons or suspects, according to DIG Pradhyumna Karki of Nepal Police.
“We have set up joint help desks across the border and are working in coordination with Indian security,” Karki said. “In case we detect any infections, we will immediately rush the suspects to hospitals and keep them in isolation.”
As of Saturday, the novel coronavirus disease, which was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in January, has reached 185 countries and territories. The scourge has claimed the lives of over 11,000 globally and infected over 270,000. In Nepal, there has been only one case so far, and the patient has recovered after treatment.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of March 28, 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. As of Wednesday, Covid-19 had spread to 199 countries and infected more than 596,349 people with 27,343 deaths. In South Asia, Pakistan has reported the highest number of infections at 1,373, with 11 deaths. While India has reported 667 confirmed cases with 20 deaths. Nepal has so far reported four cases, in which one patient recovered.
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.